Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad is yet another movie I liked, but the critics didn’t. The list is long, but undistinguished. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it great, but it does have a lot going for it. Call it a case of the whole not being quite equal to the sum of its parts.

The version of Suicide Squad that is in theatres is not the one formulated by writer/director David Ayer. According to reports, his cut was screened for an audience, and for whatever reason, Warner Bros. got nervous. The studio called Trailer Park, a company that specializes in trailers (natch) to submit their own cut. At times, the film feels more like a trailer. Each character is introduced alongside a piece of popular music, that is a tad on the nose. That is the sort of thing that is done in a trailer to get a point or emotion across in a short amount of time. Part of me would like to think this is a meta-commentary on the device, but Suicide Squad isn’t that type of film.

Some have described Suicide Squad as a hot mess. What do you expect when the members are made up of psychopaths, (to varying degrees) one of whom is in a codependent relationship with the Joker? That one, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is one of the main reasons to see the film. Robbie is the perfect embodiment of Harley. Deadshot (Will Smith) is the emotional center of the story. He may be playing a hit man, but people like Smith, and will go along with the character.

For those of you who wished that the DC movies were more like those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I have good news. Suicide Squad has a half-decent villain with a cadre of cannon fodder for the good guys to mow down. Dr. June Moon (Cara Delevingne) is an archeologist who becomes possessed by a millennia old witch called the Enchantress. It’s not that Delevingne is bad in the role–she’s not–it’s that she doesn’t have a lot to do in either guise. Had this movie been made two decades ago, I’m sure Denise Richards would have been cast in the role. So we dodged a bullet there.

Then again, you could say the real villain is Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). She is a master at manipulation and deflecting blame. Even the guy Waller puts in charge of being the squad’s handler, Rick Flag, (Joel Kinnaman) is not exactly a volunteer.
Here’s something you don’t hear every day: This film could have used more Jai Courtney. Courtney plays Captain Boomerang, and he is a scene stealer. Killer Croc, (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) El Diablo, (Jay Hernandez) Slipknot, (Adam Beach) and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) round out Task Force X, as they are officially designated.

No, I am not forgetting Jared Leto as the Joker, but he had basically a glorified cameo. At this point, I cannot say where Leto ranks on the live action Joker scale. Every incarnation of Mr. J. has been different because the charater is multi-dimensional, which is one reason he is the best comic book villain of all time. Batman too, has many layers. Some more campy than others.

I haven’t gotten a handle on Leto’s interpretation, partly because his is the first live action Joker to be paired with Harley Quinn. She brings a new dynamic out of the Joker in a similar (yet totally different) way that Robin does with Batman. When the Joker is around Harley, he is a different kind of crazy, while Robin tends to take the edge off the Dark Knight.

The Joker and Harley are like a modern day Bonnie and Clyde, or a variation on Mickey and Mallory from Natural Born Killers, all depending on the author and the intended audience. I hope to see them play a major part in a Batman film, because they tend to bring out the worst in each other. But in a good way.

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