The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) ***

I wasn’t quite sure how and if Suicide Squad was going to work. As it turns out, it’s essentially The Avengers, but with supervillains instead of superheroes. In fact, the big stumbling block about it is the fact that it hews a little too closely to The Avengers formula.

For starters, the team is brought together by an African-American recruiter who works for a secret government agency and doesn’t take shit from anyone. For another, they are sent after a team member’s brother. They also have to close a giant portal that resembles a big light show to stop the bad(der) guys from bringing about the end of the world. Also, the villain’s minions were nothing more than faceless fodder for our heroes (err… villains) to easily punch, kick, and shoot. (There are some sequences that feel like a live-action video game.)

That’s right; it’s another blow-up-the-world-killing-machine-in-the-nick-of-time movie.

The good news is that nearly all of the characters are engaging, appealing, and entertaining. Will Smith brings his trademark swagger to the role of the assassin, Deadshot. Margot Robbie, who was amazing in The Wolf of Wall Street, continues to ooze sex appeal as the Joker’s sultry psychotic girlfriend, Harley Quinn. Jai Courtney has a few unhinged moments as Captain Boomerang, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje gets some laughs as Killer Croc, Cara Delevingne rivals Robbie in the hotness department as the sexy Enchantress, and Jay Hernandez offers moments of unexpected depth as the brooding Diablo.

Just about everyone who saw this before me told me they were disappointed by the lack of Joker (Jared Leto) in the movie. I thought he was in it just enough. It was cool that he was either in the minds of the characters or lurking in the background waiting to strike. As for Leto’s performance, I think he handled it rather well. Some might not like his “gangsta” get-up or all the tattoos, but for me, that’s all superficial. He really nails the psychotic tendencies of the character. Take for instance the scene where he offers a henchman (Common) a roll in the hay with his beloved Harley Quinn. The guy knows as soon as the offer is made he’s dead meat because The Joker will kill him if he accepts (because he wants to sleep with her) or declines (because turning her down would seem like an insult; like she’s not pretty enough). For me, that was a quintessential Joker moment.

Leto is especially good in his scenes with Robbie. Since she’s his love interest, she brings out a side of him that we haven’t seen from the character in films before, a romantic (albeit demented) side. The scene in which he asks her to jump willingly in a vat of chemicals for him is one of the oddest declarations of love I’ve seen in a movie in some time.

The early scenes are the best. The character introductions are a lot of fun. Usually, whenever a title card accompanies a character introduction, it’s cause for eye-rolling, but director David (Fury) Ayer varies them up in such a way that they don’t seem like a cheap shortcut. Once the team is assembled, there is some good back-and-forth between the characters, and there is just enough heart there for you to care about them (even if they are bad guys).

I really loved the characters. I just hope that next time they are given an actual movie to inhabit. Once they are turned loose on the city, the film devolves into scene after scene of them fighting shit monsters. (Seriously, they look like shit; literally and figuratively.) Once Enchantress goes rogue and joins up with her brother, the whole thing pretty much goes on autopilot. Plus, the CGI for her brother is fucking terrible. He looks like the bastard child of The Lawnmower Man and something out of The Mummy Returns. Still, Enchantress is really hot in these scenes, even if she does look like a Vegas showgirl from Hell.

Even though the movie heavily relies on clichés leftover from The Avengers, there was one cool way I liked how it aped the Marvel mold. There are a couple of cool cameos by a few superheroes that give the audience a nice peek at the extended DC universe. If anything, it makes you yearn to see them properly going toe to toe with the villains in another movie. (I sincerely hope Ben Affleck goes up against Leto in the near future.)

Ayer handles the action rather well. Even though the fights get repetitive, his staging is competent and he only occasionally relies on shaky-cam nonsense to capture all the fisticuffs. (Too bad the CGI in the finale is pretty shitty.) He also does a good job at balancing the various personalities of the eclectic cast and gives each team member their own moments to shine.

Leto gets the best line of the movie when he tells Robbie, “I’ve got some grape soda and a bearskin rug just waiting!”

Tags: action, batman movies, comic book movie, s
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