Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Suicide Squad

Last week, I had the pleasure to be invited to the cinema by some friends of mine. We went to see Suicide Squad and since everyone seems to be talking about it… so shall I…

The very first thing I should say is that I was surprised at how packed the audience was. Mainly because it’s not a good film. I’ll be generous and say it’s an average film but looking at what else was on that week, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. If I wanted to go to the cinema and needed to pick any film, I’d rather go with Suicide Squad.

Visually, it’s a great film. It clearly is set in the same universe as Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman but without the darkened pallet. It’s bright and colourful without being overwhelming. I loved some of the visual effects they used for the villains. Whenever June Moon was changing into The Enchantress, her alternate personality would reach out from a nearby surface and simply flip her like a card, changing the businesswoman look into an ancient witch that looked like she just came out of a bath in a swamp.

Alas, that’s about as much good as I can say about the film.


The film assumes the viewer has no idea who any of the main characters are. It is a fair assumption but there’s a specific way the presentation was handled. The first two, Deadshot and Harley Quinn, got a very good montage and their own scenes… while the rest were nearly skipped over. Especially Captain Boomerang who was merely presented as a guy who throws things and has a thing for plush pink unicorns.

Even worse, after the montage was done and we went through all the scenes where the villains got recruited into Amanda Waller’s special task force, we’re presented with another character. We get to see his face, hear his name, know what he’s good at… and have him killed. Obviously, the one character without a separate flashback introduction is the first to die. It was such an obvious reveal, it was painful to watch.

The film is riddled with plot elements that just don’t make sense.

cleverest of them all
Amanda Waller, who is presented as this tough as nails, remorseless and does what has to be done, has her team scour the temple June Moon found. There’s one scene where she shows a picture of the idol June Moon broke thus releasing the Enchantress. Apparently, there was another idol which looked exactly the same. So this woman in charge of national security decides the best place to store something potentially containing a being of supreme power is on a shelf in her bathroom… cue facepalm.

Where's my own film?
When we’re presented with the crisis the protagonists are going to face, it is immediately ignored. The team is sent to retrieve someone from somewhere. That’s as much as we know, never mind the swirling vortex of doom in the middle of the city. Throughout the film, there’s no urgency to anything they do. Their main antagonist ends up feeling like background. Then we’re bombarded with scenes showcasing Harley’s romance with the Joker, making the film feel more about their relationship than anything else. I’m not surprised Margot Robbie wants a Harley/Joker spin-off, which Suicide Squad nearly is already.

The only other characters who get a bit more fleshed out are Deadshot and El Diablo. Deadshot is presented as an excellent hitman for hire who loves shooting people but also a dad who cares deeply for his daughter while El Diablo is trying to redeem himself and ignore how others are pushing him to burn whatever is trying to kill them. The rest is just background noise.

I don’t even know what to say about the final act. They come together as a team against a world-threatening evil (which still doesn’t feel urgent even at this point) because they have nothing better to do.

Within a narrative, there’s a way for any given team to take on the role of a single protagonist. This generally requires each character on the team to serve a specific role that helps them achieve their goals but as the final goal has been ignored up to the final act and none of them has a clear defined role in the context of the group, even the final confrontation feels tacked-on.

what watching the film feels like
If you like the superhero genre and have nothing better to do either, I suppose you can watch this film. It has some nice action scenes, Deadshot and Harley are presented nicely and it has nice visual… just don’t think about the plot, please.

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