Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Day 1719 - Suicide Squad

We'll get to whether or not I liked the movie in a bit.  First, I want to set up the movie itself.  The plot is right out of The Dirty Dozen - a number of incarcerated super villains are given a chance to knock some years off their sentence by participating in undercover operations that might end with them not coming back.  And as added incentive, they have little bombs injected into them to keep them on the straight and narrow.

The players are Harley Quinn - Joker's girlfriend, super smart, and certifiably crazy.  Deadshot - A hired killer who never misses what he shoots at, and has a daughter who's the only person he cares about.  Captain Boomerang - An Aussie who drinks a lot and throws trick boomerangs. Diablo - Basically DC's version of the Human Torch, who's a tortured soul because of what he did to his family.  Killer Croc - A super strong crocodile looking fella.  Slipknot - Apparently he can climb everything (and in the most unintentionally funny scene, he's introduced and we know immediately that he's cannon fodder).  Enchantress - an ancient witch who is controlled by... the team's boss - Amanda Waller.  She holds the Enchantress' heart in a box.  The two "good" guys on the team are Katana - a Japanese swordswoman whose sword captures the souls of those it kills.  And Rick Flag - A normal human who's in love with the Enchantress' human host.  Whew.  And that's not even talking about the Joker.

Here's my problem with the movie (and, yeah, I just thought it was okay) - it's one of characterization, and I don't know what I would do to change it.  The two main characters of the movie are Harley Quinn and Deadshot.  As played by Margot Robbie and Will Smith, they are as close to their comic counterparts as they possibly could be.  But Harley Quinn is so crazy that I had a hard time sympathizing with her.  And the opposite is true for Deadshot.  He's so focused as Deadshot that I couldn't believe that someone who loves his daughter as much as he does would allow himself to be as bad as he's supposed to be.

That being said, the supporting bad guys kill it.  Captain Boomerang is easily one of the best bad guys I've seen on screen in a while.  He has no tortured history, he's unapologetic in his depravity, and he's an unabashed coward.  In other words, he's perfect for the team.  Diablo is perfectly tortured, and I believed everything he went through to get to this point.  And Killer Croc has the perfect mix of menace and self-reflection.  If the whole movie were about them, I probably would have enjoyed it that much more.

But the real elephant in the room is Jared Leto's Joker.  And he's fine.  He's not going to make anyone forget Heath Ledger's Joker (or even Cesar Romero's), but he is perfectly acceptable.  The only problem is that while everyone thinks he's given short shrift in the film, he's a much bigger part of it than he should be.  The whole premise of the movie is that these bad guys take on missions that no one else can do, and, yet, their first mission is one that it seems like any government agency could do.  And their second mission (which is just a continuation of their first one), while it meets those requirements, doesn't have the gravitas that it should.  It's probably because the big bad doesn't seem like much of a threat.  But Joker is the monkey wrench that throws everything into upheaval.  And if their mission was to catch Joker, or if he had more interactions with the other characters, then I might have been able to appreciate him that much more.  But it seems like he's auditioning for his placement in a Harley Quinn movie.

It might seem like I didn't like the movie, but the acting in it really elevates the film.  Viola Davis' Amanda Waller is just as brutal and conniving as the one in the comic.  Robbie and Smith are spot on.  And Joel Kinnaman really becomes the backbone of the film with just the right amount of gruffness and military precision.  It's a solid film, but there wasn't a lot at stake for me, and I wanted to care more.