By Jim Foote
I wasn't sold on Suicide Squad and all, but after seeing BvS's trailer, I invoked the "three strikes and you're out" rule. So, going into this... two strikes. Bottom nine. Two out. Bases loaded. Suicide Squad... you're up.
You see where this is going.
At this point, we don't mind waiting as long as they'll hold up the movie since the people seeing it are all stuck waiting. Seems logical, right? They assure us the movie is going to be held up... again... since no one's in there and we're just waiting. Well, we look up times at another theater, Clifton Commons, and see a 10:45 showing. We decide to give them until 10, then bail. It's 9:55 when the systems are back up but I notice the video wall (which shows the times) has ours greyed out. I start to wonder if the times are greyed out there, will they even let us purchase the tickets for it. The staff is not hesitating and my brother thinks to, before giving his credit card, absolutely make sure everything's as they said and the movie won't be held up or anything. Then... we're told, "well it's penciled in for that time, so you'll just miss the previews and the opening. That's all. Just a few minutes."
He looks at me and I say, "fuck that. Let's go." If I got to a movie early, then was told to wait because of their systems, but then was told I'd miss the movie (after originally being told I wouldn't)... no. Just no. As we're walking out and discussing, my brother goes, "I wanna see fucking Maria Menounos talking about The Last Ship or some bullshit TBS/TNT show."
We get to Clifton Commons and low and behold...
I'm actually a big fan of the character of Amanda Waller, but in this... she's an idiot. I like Viola Davis and think she really does anything she could. Problem is... she's not given a good script. She's evil and manipulative, sure. But if you think about it... she's directly responsible for everything in this movie. She sets it in motion by the sheer creation of Task Force X. Follow me here. When she's pitching the idea to the higher government officials, she shows Enchantress as an example of their power and has her as the first piece of the Suicide Squad puzzle. So... as soon as she forms the team, Enchantress goes rogue. Why? Because we need a movie villain. If she doesn't even create the group, Enchantress isn't a part of it and she doesn't go rogue.
Furthermore, the example of "What if Superman ripped open the roof of the White House," is not something you can stop with this team. She says the next war will be fought with metahumans, but she only has TWO metahumans on her team. Harley? No. Deadshot? No. Kitana? No. Boomerang? No. Flagg? No. Slipknot? No. Furthermore, we find out she knows about Batman, Flash, and other heroes. So why not reach out to them when Enchantress goes bonkers? Nope. I'll take the crazy girl with a bat. Seems logical. This is also the second scene where she just restates what she said in the scene prior. It could've been relegated to one scene and saved time for all of these supposed deleted scenes they'll probably wind up releasing in an ULTIMATE RATED R CUT BECAUSE SCREW YOU, YOU DIDN'T DESERVE THE REAL MOVIE.
And why did she get Slipknot at all? "He can climb anything." Cool? You have this crazy ass witch who's making some kind of Ghostbusters style light into the sky... but hey, he can climb anything! Maybe if you have something in a really high place and can't reach it, he can help you out. Maybe this squad makes sense, after all.
She brings her brother back to possess/inhabit some random dude, and thus makes him a paper-thin Asgardian Destroyer rip-off. Anything with Enchantress or Incubus (that's the brother's name) feels like a cut scene from a video game. They feel like random villains for the sake of putting over your main characters. Plus, it makes Waller's decisions even make less sense. Enchantress and Incubus... and a few people with a bat, boomerang, and a sword will kill these monsters? Also, seeing that weird dance Enchantress was doing, I'm not really sure she knew what to do. I saw her moving around and this is all I could think of...
In here, they make Rick Flagg the love interest for Dr. June Moon aka Enchantress, and a complete joke of what could be a really underrated and underutilized character. Flagg has always been a super tactician, the ultimate soldier. Here, he's consistently bitched out by both Waller and the entanglement with Enchantress and repeatedly needs to be saved. He's a pawn and pretty much an emotional damsel in distress. That's your Rick Flagg, ladies and gentlemen. Oh, and for all the speculation on who Scott Eastwood would be playing... he played Flagg's second. That's it. No more, no less.
Our next main character is Deadshot. It's not so much Will Smith playing Deadshot. It's more so Will Smith playing Will Smith. But I'm actually fine with it. I've always been a big fan of Will Smith and I think he's one of the more engaging characters here. His backstory makes sense, as a guy who realizes he's a villain but still tries to play by his own rules. I love his interaction with Batman, although man... his daughter isn't afraid of Batman? She's quite the trooper. The only quibble I have with Deadshot is the lack of screen time he spends in the mask. I get it. You cast Will Smith... you want Will Smith. Minor quibble (and his Deadshot "eye" was the wrong one... how do you get that wrong?).
Before I get into Harley and Joker, most fans' main focus, I'll say something pretty bold. I found Harley Quinn had more chemistry with Deadshot than she did with the Joker. Her and Joker was pretty one noted, it wasn't layered. I was at least watching with interest in regards to Deadshot and Harley's time together. When it was her and Joker, I felt it was super forced and was just kind of, "there."
Harley herself did a good job. At times, she was a bit over the top, but when considering the character... if anyone's going to be over the top, it's gotta be Harley Quinn and or the Joker. In addition to Deadshot, Harley was was the second of three characters I actually enjoyed. I've never been a big Harley Quinn fan, and what I have been a fan of, has been her appearances in Batman: The Animated Series. I don't understand when people refer to her as an anti-hero. She's not. She's a villain. She was driven insane, was/is a subject of abuse, in love with her abuser, and openly kills people. This is not a character someone should be championing as a role model. That, in of itself, is ludicrous. LUDAAAAAAAAAAA. She poses no real threat to either Enchantress or Incubus, yet easily tricks her with her "my friends" line.
Which brings me to The Joker. He's been pretty divisive among fans. Some automatically jump on the new and claim him to be the best ever, leapfrogging Nicholson, Hamill, Ledger, and even Romero. Hell yeah, I'm bringing up Romero. Dude was awesome. Others see Leto as nothing more than a Hot Topic Joker or Generic Villain #317 dressed as The Joker. I'll say this: I don't think we've seen enough of him for me to make a real claim either way. He's barely in the flick and what I've seen is only his goal to get Harley. He almost seems like he exists in another movie. I do like the idea of going back to the Clown Prince of Crime type, but I need more. I'm not ready to make a ruling either way, although I wasn't wowed. It doesn't say anything good, though, that his only function was his relationship with Harley and her chemistry was actually better with Deadshot. We could've felt more of a connection, but with all the flashbacks, they show almost nothing regarding how Joker turns her. We could've seen that, but we see nothing. "I need a machine gun." Great dialogue. Sigh.
There was a little easter egg I noticed that should be explored in the next Batman flick. When they continue their Creed style of putting stats and profiles in a graphic over a character introduction, they mention she was an accomplice in the killing of Robin. I could've used a little bit more of an acknowledgment, but i'll take it.
You know who is the third character I liked in this? Fricken Captain Boomerang. Jai Courtney. Yeah, I said it. He plays this right. Boomerang is a no good, down and dirty scoundrel, and I enjoyed it. They did miss what could've been a great moment with him (and a moment where the entire audience laughed). When the characters are in the bar and Flagg destroyed his phone/controls for their chips, ultimately disabling them, Boomerang instantly takes off on his own. There's no hesitation, he just bolts. If he would've never come back, it would've probably been the highlight of the flick. Instead, they make it look like he leaves and he's back with the group in the next scene. They made a point to say he always turns on people, but this time he doesn't? Why? Because they showed him the true meaning of Christmas and his heart grew three sizes that day.
Even more so, we have a team of characters the movie establishes as people who either cut and run, turn on their partners, or don't care about anything or anyone. What do they do? They turn everyone at the dime of the hat, and suddenly you have Diablo calling them his family, Harley going at Enchantress for messing with her friends, and Boomerang suddenly coming back when he didn't have to or his character dictates he wouldn't. Most of all, back to Harley. She leaves all of them hanging to go with Joker. Then only like 20 minutes later, she's all about her "friends." You literally just contradicted your team. Maybe they're supposed to be ingenuous. Maybe. I'm willing to bet they weren't, scenes were deleted and shifted, leaving us with this.
Croc, Katana, and Slipknot didn't add anything. One was fodder to be killed off almost instantly with little to no introduction, another had a backstory with a different tone than the others, and a popular Batman villain who was turned into nothing more than a giant black stereotype who wanted to watch BET. That's Killer Croc. He stands in the background to spout one liners.
The most jarring aspect of the movie was its music. The opening and introduction of each characters worked just fine, although some of the songs were very cliche. Do we really need another Sympathy For The Devil scene? I don't think we do. If the songs were just there for intros, that's fine. But it seemed for the first half of the movie, every scene had another song rev up. They felt like segmented music videos to push a soundtrack. It takes you out of the pacing and movie itself. You start getting into it, or start following it, then boom... White Stripes starts up, AC/DC starts up, etc. Suicide Squad has already been and will continue to be compared to Guardians of the Galaxy for its off kilter cast and use of music. There is no comparison. Guardians is the damn Godfather compared to Suicide Squad. Guardians made music a part of the main character's story and plot of the movie, directly involved in the resolution of the heroes vs. villain. Suicide Squad had none of that. It doesn't ADD to anything. If you subbed in an actual score, you'd get the same effects but not compromise the pacing and or story.
The mid-credits scene brings me back to the first point, the problem with Waller. By her meeting with Bruce Wayne, we know she knows everyone's secret identities. He knows she knows. She knows he knows. Bruce offers her, a big time baddie, his protection for help in forming the Justice League. Because you know... he just can't detective like he used to. Plus, after a movie of her saying she's the best at getting people to act against their own self interests and her means of manipulation, she rolls over and just asks Bruce for help and protection. It seems like they threw character integrity under the bus in favor of pushing the connected universe.
The fight scenes were alright, with Deadshot making the most of it and shining through more than others. Even with that, it feels like a video game. It all feels like one. Buddy up with your friends and see who's left to be forced to play as Slipknot. "Hey guys, let me climb this building! Yahoo!" The villains were faceless Putties and even the end battle felt like a final battle from a video game. Faceless villains throughout level? Check. Big hulking monster as semi-main event? Check. Weird magician/spell based main villain? Check. Multi-player? Check. It's not that it's some rape of modern cinema or anything, but it's just "there." It's run of the mill. It's cliche. It's predictable.
When I left BvS, I was angry. I saw characters I loved turned into murderers and my favorite villain of all time turned into a spoiled brat with a tick who pees in jars and plays with jolly ranchers. When I left Suicide Squad, I wasn't angry. I was just disappointed. So much from the trailers and tv spots weren't even in the movie, Jared Leto has gone on record saying there's a bunch of Joker deleted scenes (why aren't they in the damn movie?), and the movie even further muddles the ground on which the universe stands.
Having said that, it hit over 100 mil for the opening weekend and will surely be a success, which brings me to my next point. I said at the beginning of this... three strikes. Suicide Squad was up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. They swung. They didn't miss. They did hit the ball... but it was a Bobby Abreu grounder to first. At this point, I'm okay with never seeing this movie again and unless I see something that really leads me to believe they're changing course or doing something different, when Wonder Woman or Justice League comes out... this gigantic DC fan... won't be there in the theater.
Suicide Squad (or Now: That's What I Call Music Volume 100)... I really enjoyed it. It was great. 8/10.
Just kidding. It's a 3/10.