Sunday, August 7, 2016

Suicide Squad Review

     Good evening, everyone and welcome to another entry in Coffee With The Cynic's movie reviews!  Alright, here we are with another entry into the DCEU (Detective Comics Extended Universe) in Suicide Squad.  My exact feelings on this one seemed to be all over the place leading up to its release.  When the original trailer from Comic-Con 2015 was uploaded last year, I thought to myself, "Oh...this might be worth checking out."  The darker, bleaker tone that the DCEU was shooting for (if Man Of Steel was any indication) could really work with these characters considering it is a team of villains and all.  I mean, sure, I wasn't sold on the new look of The Joker (Jared Leto) or Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) but I was still curious to see how it played out.  However, with each subsequent trailer and promotional image, it seemed as if the movie had taken a radical change of tone, moving away from that dark, gritty tone like The Dark Knight and opting for something more colorful and wacky like Guardians Of The Galaxy and I actually found myself less and less enthusiastic towards the film and stopped watching the promotional material for it because I didn't want anything to push me over and make me say, "You know what?  I don't want to see this.  I'll just do something else on my vacation day I took for this movie."

Good thing, too.  I literally just watched the SDCC 2016 trailer and that would've pushed me over.  I can't quite put my finger on why, though.

        In case you aren't overly familiar with the Suicide Squad (I'm right there with you), there have been a few different incarnations of it but this film is using the modern take on the term for its story: a team of incarcerated supervillains that is being used by the US Government as a covert deniable strike-team for black-op missions that is under the supervision of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis).  In this case, being led into Midway City to stop Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) from unleashing ancient mystic arts to mold the Earth into something a little more preferable to her needs.

     First, the good.  The casting is really good for the most part and quite entertaining.  I really liked Will Smith as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot, giving both that dramatic flair that he's been doing lately in the scenes involving his daughter and being that classic charming but smart-ass Will Smith from Independence Day that we've been wanting back for so long and even though there isn't really a main character in this movie, I totally get why Will Smith has top billing.
     Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is just about perfect and probably the best casting the DCEU has done to date.  I'm mostly familiar with Waller through the Justice League cartoon that was on during the early 2000s and the film Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and the live-action Waller is pretty much exactly how I remember her from those properties and I loved every second of it.  I would even go so far as to say she's probably the best thing about this movie.
     As for the rest of the Squad, they did what they needed to do and that was fine.  Joel Kinnaman was serviceable as Rick Flag, the Squad's direct commander and Waller's errand boy, Jay Hernandez added some emotional humanity as the team's pyrotechnic pacifist Chato Santana/El Diablo, Karen Fukuhara was pretty badass as the masked Katana, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje under pounds of prosthetic makeup delivered the big screen's first interpretation of Waylon Jones/Killer Croc and Jai Courtney was pretty likeable as Captain Boomerang.

Sure, this was the first movie I've seen the guy in but I haven't heard anything good about him in other projects.

     The action sequences were also a lot of fun and kept me entertained (hey, there's that word again).  The fights between the Squad and Enchantress' zombie-like army were pretty clear and easy to follow even if there were a few really quick cuts throughout and I really enjoyed the confrontation between El Diablo and Enchantress' brother Incubus (Alain Chanoine) closer to the end of the film with that particular scene getting an exclaim of, "Holy shit," from me.  There's also a couple of cameos from other DCEU films (stay for the mid-credits stinger, FYI) that felt far more organic than they did in BvS and playfully acknowledged that Suicide Squad is indeed part of that universe instead of shoving it down our throats with no regard for subtlety or creativity.

     I can hear you guys, "You haven't talked about Joker or Harley Quinn yet!  How dare ye!"  I'm saving them for their own sections.  Relax.

     First, Harley.  Harley Quinn is sort of a middle ground for me in this movie.  While I did enjoy Margot Robbie's portrayal of the character, even going so far as to say that she almost nailed the original Harley from Batman: The Animated Series' personality perfectly, I still hate her costume in this movie.  This was Harley Quinn's big-screen debut and there is a quick shot of Robbie in the classic harlequin-style jumpsuit with the pom poms and everything but instead they went with the white t-shirt and minuscule booty shorts.  I always found that Harley Quinn was a nice balance of looking hot and intimidating and sadly I never got the latter from her look.  While her performance helped soften that blow, all I'm saying is that you can have Harley Quinn look hot and alluring while she's still in pants.  If not the original jumpsuit, how about a variation thereof, like what she wore in the game Batman: Arkham City?

For Suicide Squad 2?  Please?

      Alright, I just want to address a couple of things that bugged me before I get to the big tamale.  At the beginning of the film, we're given these little exposition scenes introducing each member of the Squad.  While it was neat that each member was given their own song during this scene, the cartoony stat cards that came up on the screen were a bit off-putting, making me feel like I was watching an episode of Ultimate Spider-Man instead of a multi-million dollar feature film.  While the licensed songs worked in this bit, the film keeps throwing more at every given opportunity which made me wonder if composer Steven Price called Warner Bros. and said, "I just don't feel like composing today, guys.  What do you have in your licensed catalogue?"  Much like how the soundtrack in BvS was jarring, it eventually got to that point here and felt like it was trying too hard to be the soundtrack to Guardians Of The Galaxy.
     Another thing I noticed here was that there was that feeling, again, like BvS, that I wasn't seeing the full picture here.  Not that things were going over my head or I just wasn't "getting it" but I felt that there was a lot cut from the movie.  I'm wondering if that was due to the reshoots the film underwent earlier this year but it just feels like I'm being double-dipped to get the full film experience and it does hurt the movie a bit.
     I also felt that the addition of the character Slipknot (Adam Beach) was completely pointless.  I don't want to spoil anything but all I'm going to say is that he's basically here the same way KGBeast was in the animated Batman: Assault On Arkham (which follows a similar plot to this).  Of course, when he was introduced as Slipknot, I couldn't help but think, "Hey, he's not nine masked guys in coveralls from Des Moines, Iowa!  What are you trying to pull here?"
     Alright, you want to know what I felt was the worst thing about this movie?

Yup.  This guy.  Right here.

     I really did not like Jared Leto's take on The Joker and I don't just mean his appearance.  Sure, I still think the tattoos and the pimp jacket were an ill-fit with Joker but Leto's performance just did not do it for me.  He never came off as particularly threatening or amusing, just eccentric and weird and his laugh is just weak compared to literally every other incarnation of this character.   He really doesn't have much presence in this movie but I've heard that a lot of his scenes were cut for whatever reason.  I am honestly not terribly heartbroken over that as it gave us more of the characters we actually gave a crap about.  Leto's Joker is remarkably forgettable and I honestly can't remember any lines of dialogue he had in this movie.

     Final Verdict: Well, I guess the third time was the charm for the DCEU because Suicide Squad was actually entertaining!  Absent are the abundance of mopey bring-downs of Man Of Steel or the overcrowded pretensions of BvS and instead we have the kind of movie that you can just sit down and have fun with.  Yeah, remember when we were allowed to go to the movies to do that?  This will remind you of those times.  Suicide Squad is far from perfect, especially since I'm left feeling I didn't see the full film but the positives truly outweigh the negatives on this one.  While I cannot bring myself to say I'm gonna rush out and buy the Blu-Ray, I would be down for a viewing of a Director's Cut and I don't think we wasted a 90 minute drive to the theatre and then the two hour run time.  I was never outright bored with Suicide Squad and I did have an entertained smile for a good chunk of it so with that, I'm going to give Suicide Squad the rating of a Fun Ride.


     So folks, I leave the floor open to you.  Have you seen Suicide Squad and what is your favorite anti-hero?  Let me know down in the comments and, as per usual, if you like what you see on this blog, you be sure to nudge that "Follow" button and stay cynical!
     -The Cynic

1 comment:

  1. Glad you had fun. I did a second viewing and now consider this worse than MoS and BvS