Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Sunday, August 7, 2016
Movie Review: Suicide Squad
May contain spoilers for some readers.
As a comic in the DC universe, the Suicide Squad first began in 1959 and had several re-boots as in 1987 and again in 2011. The premise that evolved in the the re-booted series in the 1980s was that a group of supervillains was coerced into working as a covert strike team under the directorship Amanda Waller, a powerful government official and led on the ground by soldier Rick Flagg, Jr.
The idea supervillians being used like a Dirty Dozen squad appealed in a major way to both DC and Warner Brothers and a movie was eventually conceptualized by David Ayer, the writer or director of such material as Training Day and The Fast and the Furious. Warner Brothers let the experienced Ayer do his thing and when a movie trailer was cut, there was huge excitement that DC was on to something great.
The difference between the trailer and the finished movie product was so stark though that the story is that Warner Brothers got nervous. Jaret Leto who plays the Joker in about ten minutes of the film says a lot of his material was cut. This happens in every film so it shouldn't be taken to mean the best material ended on the cutting room floor. Suffice to say though with a large ensemble cast and a few origin stories tossed in, it can get too big, too cluttered and too confusing in short order.
Director David Ayer did have some muses to work with in acting talent Will Smith as Deadshot, Angela Robbie as Harley Quinn and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. Winnipeg's own Adam Beach appears as Slipknot. In all, there are more than a dozen characters with history in the DC universe that have roles including an appearance by Ben Affleck as Batman. In short, far too many to get to know well in one movie. Contrast this will hit movie Deadpool which kept additional Marvel characters to a bare minimum to keep the focus on the central character..
There is no way of getting around the fact that Suicide Squad is about a squad but one can't help think how it would have benefited from keeping things focused on a smaller group. For some young women the character of Harley Quinn has captured their imaginations as the antithesis to Wonder Woman. She is a pretty in crazy way, has no real superpowers, has a bad boyfriend in the Joker and carries a bat to hit people. At any costume party, you are likely to see a girl dressed up in the ruined make-up of Harley.
As played by Angela Robbie, Harley Quinn should have been one of the main focal points of the story. She is the fun one in the story along with Deadshot played by Will Smith. Anyways, it is a case of woulda, coulda, shoulda. The fandom is going to pushback against criticism of Suicide Squad but it could have been a lot better. The character of Dr. Moon/Enchantress played by Cara Delevinge probably represents the most difficult challenge. Had this character and her predicament been more thoroughly explored, it would have been central to amazing storytelling.
The idea of duality of good and evil sometimes being present in the same person is a good start to where Suicide Squad could have done better. Instead what happened was that computer generated images dominated the latter half of the movie and reminded of the original Ghostbusters except with a lot less humour.
So, did I enjoy the movie? The answer is I enjoyed some of the performance quite a bit. I won't give up hope. It reminds me of my view of the re-boot of Batman. I thought the first movie was okay but the real pay-off came in the second movie with a good story and performances. Undoubtedly, the box office will be mighty for Suicide Squad. The trick will be if a new movie can overcome the shortcomings of the first. Of course, it is entirely possible the studio will believe there were no problems whatsoever with the movie and proceed until the box office results tell them otherwise. If this is the case, don't see this movie till is in a cheaper format than big screen.