Suicide Squad

I think a lot of people in the fan boy press were looking forward to The Suicide Squad, because of all the DC projects that Zach Snyder was shepherding to the screen, this one fit his dark vision for the DC universe the best.   I mean you got amoral spymaster Amanda Waller, here played by Violet Davis, coercing several badass DC villains into a team to go on a desperate dangerous mission.  It’s The Dirty Dozen remade as a superhero movie.  If there ever was a movie that should be made with attitude and underexposed footage this was it.

But then Batman vs. Superman bombed badly and was heavily criticized for its bleak tone.  Then suddenly there was talk of reshoots for The Suicide Squad and rumors about how the studio executives wanted to lighten it up.  There was probably some of that but it didn’t really stand out as much as you would think.  The problem was unengaging characterization and an unimaginative screenplay.  I suspect that Suicide Squad would have been a bad movie even without studio tinkering.

At the beginning of the movie for example, they give us a little precis of some of the prospective members of the team.  There are graphics on the screen and little flashbacks as Amanda Waller explains to various authority figures who each member is and what they can do.  The whole thing is jarring somehow, maybe because we’ve seen it so many times before.  It’s also repetitive and doesn’t really add to the tension.

I realize that Amanda Waller is supposed to straddle the line between good guy and bad guy, but the filmmakers have miscalculated and drawn her too far to the dark side.  The moral equations are hopelessly muddled here and there isn’t enough attitude in the film to make me overlook that.  Not everything she does is justified in my opinion.

As for the performances, they are fine.  It’s been a long time since Will Smith, who plays Deadshot, has relied solely on his own persona to carry a role, as he does here.  There’s really nothing wrong with that but it does make for some cognitive dissonance since Smith is playing a cold-blooded killer as a likeable and funny guy.  He doesn’t quite pull it off.

The only great performance is delivered by Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.  If nothing else this movie should ignite the second stage of her ascent into superstardom.  She actually brings out some of the tragedy of Harley Quinn’s story.  She also does crazy very well.  And it doesn’t hurt that she’s insanely hot.

There are a lot of funny moments in this but if you’ve been keeping up with the previews, you’ve seen them all.  So Warner Brothers’ inability to make a good DC comic book movie continues.  I can’t imagine many people have much hope for the Justice League movie.  Wonder Woman looks intriguing but then again so did this.  I really hope that they pull out of this slump or change their approach.

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