Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Suicide Squad

* out of ****

I must confess a lack of professionalism on my part when reviewing Warner/DC’s new film, Suicide Squad: I’m not sure what happened. About halfway through, I stopped paying attention. This is either the fault of me, a reviewer who normally has a lot of enthusiastic patience for comic book movies, or the people behind this film’s release who allowed just about every wrong thing to happen to it’s edgy concept before it hit screens.

Starting with Man of Steel, I knew that DC movies had lost their way with the first wretched entry of their nervous reaction to Disney/Marvel having a movie franchise that had just been rendered unstoppable through the monumental success of The Avengers. This year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did very little to improve things and among its tease for more movies to come, Suicide Squad - a darkly humorous looking movie that gathers up random DC bad guys as ironic heroes, looked like it had the most potential.

What worked for Disney/Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy or Fox/Marvel's Deadpool might work for a weird offshoot Warner/DC movie. It seems the studio took this idea to heart, because they released a lousy attempt to imitate the success of these two movies. Like Guardians, it uses pop songs in its soundtrack, only with little-to-no imagination in the playlist. Like Deadpool it dedicates to some heavy violence, only without an R-rating. I’ll get back to that.

I suppose I was able to follow enough of this disaster: Obscure incarcerated bad guy characters have been temporarily released under the leadership of a secret government organization to work as a team after given explosive body implants that will detonate if they fail to comply with orders. Along the way, the most powerful of their members becomes the villain they all have to fight.

That’s about it. It’s this Escape from New York plot that clumsily incorporates flashbacks for all its characters and has a terrible sense of dramatic buildup and pacing - and it’s obvious in the first ten minutes that the movie will be a mess.

The film has some merits. Viola Davis commits to her government agent character as a cold-hearted unflinching leader of maniacs; Jared Leto, with little screen-time, gives his gangster version of Joker the demonic screen presence needed; Will Smith brings humanity to his deadly hit-man, Deadshot; and Margot Robbie brings to life the first true live-action incarnation of fan-favorite Harley Quinn (Joker’s girlfriend) with glee.

The film’s director, David Ayer, contributes a lot of serious masculine energy to the film along with some gorgeous lighting. While I’m sure his original cut of the film was a more cohesive experience, I doubt that it will be any less miserable whenever we finally see it.  

I have stated in past reviews that I love some hardcore movie violence, but I despise it when it’s been manipulated to qualify for a PG-13 rating. I consider it to be morally irresponsible when showing heavy gun violence without horrific consequences in a movie that is welcoming kids into its audience.

What really baffles me is when studio suits are so lacking in taste, that they allow a movie to get this bad before getting it out there. I suppose they expect it to attract people who give that giant screen a minimum amount of their smartphone-occupied attention before leaving a pile of trash behind while automatically saying, “That was pretty good.” It’s a cynical realization that there is an audience for “Suicide Squad.”

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