Friday, August 5, 2016

Suicide Squad

What a strange year this has been for movies. Somehow DC has simultaneously been on a hot streak in terms of the quality of their product, but also on a bizarre down slope when it comes to the critical reception of their films. Luckily, both movies will make enough money that it doesn't make any difference. The fan reaction has been much kinder than the questionable critical consensus, and it seems that audiences are starting to take the Rotten Tomatoes score less and less seriously these days... which is how it should be. Personally, I've been really excited for this film ever since it was announced, and particularly after Batman v Superman I was desperate for anything DC related. With a very promising cast and a tremendous marketing campaign, I had a feeling this might take a lot of people by surprise.

Deep within the fortified chambers of Belle Reve Penitentiary, the most dangerous criminals in the world are being kept. Amanda Waller, director of intelligence agency A.R.G.U.S., is responsible for their incarceration, biding her time until she's able to obtain clearance to use the meta-humans to accomplish impossible operations. Joining this team known as Task Force X are Deadshot (impeccably aiming marksman), Harley Quinn (psychotic girlfriend of the Joker), Captain Boomerang (a violent jewel thief from Australia), Killer Croc (a monstrous, reptilian-skinned cannibal), El Diablo (a former gang member with powers of pyrokinesis), and Enchantress (a demonic entity possessing the body of an archaeologist). They're all given an explosive implant in their necks to prevent them from disobeying orders, and are taken into an otherworldly catastrophe in Midway City to rescue an anonymous person of great importance...

This story isn't that complicated, but the complexity comes into play when the backstories of every member of the team take place. The most relatable and sympathetic of these is probably Deadshot, played superbly by Will Smith. He hasn't been in a ton of good movies lately, so this is a welcome return to form to the charismatic leading man we all know and love. Another standout from this cast is Margot Robbie as the love-struck and utterly psychotic Harley Quinn. She's so oblivious and carefree to the dangers around her, while also being able to hold her own in a fight, that it's impossible not to find yourself rooting for her. Her origin story is pretty fascinating as well, particularly due to the inclusion of a new and suitably electrifying portrayal of the Clown Prince of Gotham himself, Joker. Jared Leto took this character into his very bones, and I for one could have used a lot more of him. However, I have no qualms with the ensemble nature of this story, as it suits a film entitled "Suicide Squad" perfectly. Let's just hope he becomes the primary antagonist of the upcoming Batman standalone film.

I've heard a lot of complaining about the editing being "a mess", but what some critics are failing to recognize is that this film is taking on the nature of its characters. What does that mean? It means it's freaking crazy! From the bright colors bursting in every frame to the creative art direction conveying information about each member of the Squad, I found this style to be not only effective, but downright infectious. The music choices are impeccable as well, with a wide range of eras and genres that perfectly complement the various characters as they go into battle. David Ayer had a difficult task when attempting to capture this tone of magnificent madness, but he pulls it off with flying neon colors.

The main villain of this story is the only place where I can find a legitimate flaw, and it isn't even one that lasts the entirety of the film. Enchantress is one of the most frightening characters I've seen on screen in quite some time, with her glowing gold eyes and her smoky, shadowy silhouette. Her demonic presence creeps me out, and I was a bit disappointed when she abandoned her frightening form for a less terrifying Aztec goddess-like getup. Having said that, I think there is another character that is possibly more villainous than even Enchantress herself - Amanda Waller. Of all the surprises I had in this film, Viola Davis's incredibly cold and ruthless performance was definitely one of the most impressive. Despite having more physically dominant characters all around her, she's still able to hold her own without breaking a sweat. I look forward to seeing this character return in future DC movies... though, if I'm being honest, I could say that about almost all of these characters.

I should add a slight disclaimer here, to all those who may be wanting to bring young children to this... you probably shouldn't. Not only is there a ton of violence and somewhat disturbing images, but there is also a lot of questionable language from all of the characters involved. The PG-13 should definitely be taken seriously in this case (and may be a bit too lenient), and with a title like "Suicide Squad" that should come as no surprise. Despite the harsh language or the brutality of the violence, this movie achieves a great balance by bringing a TON of really solid humor as well. It also has a lot of subtle moments of redemption for these characters, and perhaps the most surprisingly sympathetic was El Diablo, the heavily tattooed former gang member who's taken a vow of peace. However, when he finally breaks that vow, it's pretty impressive to see what he can do.

To sum up, this movie is an explosion of unbridled creativity and insanity, and it's incredibly fun as well. I've seen it twice already, and each time the majority of the audience has mirrored my sentiments. Seriously, I can't wait to see it again! It's certainly a crowd-pleaser, and one that is far too entertaining to spend time and energy attempting to pick it apart. DC has consistently given us movies that make us unbearably excited for the next one. I mean, did you see that Wonder Woman trailer?!? I wouldn't say that it was a perfect movie, by any means, but it keeps getting better every time I see it. Maybe one day I will be able to go the full four stars, but for now at least I'm giving it a very solid three and a half. Ignore the Rotten Tomatoes score and go see this movie!

SUICIDE SQUAD is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language