The Wheel and Axle


by on Aug.07, 2016, under Film & TV, Geeky

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Major spoilers, obv.

Suicide Squad, while not as excellent I was expecting, was great. It was simply pure fun. Dark fun, exciting fun, a refreshing elevation of the darkness of the DCEU into dark humor.

Ignore the “critics” who say otherwise.

The film is based on a DC comic book series of the same name created by Ostrander and Yale in 1987 (not counting the original 1959 more “heroic” incarnation by Kanigher and Andru). In it, the government – through official Amanda Waller – assembles a team of (mostly) metahuman criminals to be Task Force X, a clandestine operative group designed to handle dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency and/or commuted prison sentences. They’re “patsies,” as they call themselves, because exposure or getting compromised during such missions leads to the government throwing them under the bus. They also serve as a backup plan in case another “Superman” surfaces, one who might not be as moral as the one who died in BvS.

The line-up in the film is a mix of founding Suicide Squad members Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and Enchantress as well as later additions Slipknot, Killer Croc, El Diablo, and the insanely popular Harley Quinn. They are kept in check by Col. Rick Flag and his bodyguard, the sword-wielding Katana (who in the comics was a member of the hero team Outsiders). Also, if any of them try to escape, nanites injected into their bodies will be activated to kill them. En route to their first mission, Harley’s lover – the Joker, yes, THAT Joker – pursues them to try and take her back.

Here’s the thing: this is a very solid cast.

Viola Davis, for starters, nails Amanda Waller so hard that her TV counterpart – some unrecognizable stick insect – definitely deserved to be shot in the head on Arrow. Viola IS Amanda Waller, as anyone who actually reads comics will likely agree with. She’s pragmatic, ruthless, cold, and downright scary. And she has no super-powers at all.

I’m not really a fan of Will Smith, and I’m also not a fan of unwarranted changes to a character’s race or sexuality (Johnny Storm, Ancient One, Goku, Alan Scott, etc.), but he does pretty good work as Deadshot. Margot Robbie as Harley steals the show plenty of times; I have never been a fan of Harley Quinn except for the original Paul Dini animated version, but Robbie made me like her version here. In many ways, this was Deadshot’s and Harley’s movie, and they are given full story arcs with the most character development. They form the heart of the movie.

Joel Kinnaman as Flag and Cara Delevingne as the Enchantress form the next layer of character of the movie, with the latter being the primary source of the film’s conflict. Both perfomers provide unexpected depth to more-or-less textbook relationship drama in a fantasy setting.

My only gripes are: (1) that Boomerang did not receive any substantial arc and development, and (2) that ultimately the Joker was superfluous to the entire story.

Boomerang is not only a founding member in the comics; he’s also one of the Flash’s primary Rogues (which, by the way, the Ezra Miller cameo was a great idea and made sense). I had expected an in-depth exploration of the character’s background and motivations, but all we truly got was a caricature. A bit of a waste of Jai Courtney’s talents, but to be fair, he did great with what he was given.

On the opposite end, we have the Joker. Jared Leto’s participation in this movie was hyped a lot, and expectations were high – especially since his predecessors were well-loved in the role. Indeed, we do get a fairly good Joker, but Leto hasn’t surpassed Ledger yet. This is by no means Leto’s fault; the character felt tacked onto the story, and the film could have survived without him except maybe for a cameo in Harley’s origin and some kind of apperance in the ending. Thus, we have not seen the full potential of Leto’s Joker, and I hope we see him in a future DCEU film.

The screen time given to the Joker could have been used to explore the rest of the Squad’s members, who all felt more like warm bodies to round out the roster – particularly Croc, Slipknot, and Katana.

The exception is El Diablo, a comic book C-lister (I’m being kind) who got a full story arc and gave a couple of the film’s “wow” moments. This is unusual, given Boomerang has more comic book royal blood in his veins, but it made sense when a friend – who follows director David Ayer’s movies – said Ayer often includes a Latino gangbanger type in the cast to reflect his past in East LA. I’m unsure how accurate that is as I haven’t really followed his movies, but in this case at least, he made a good call. Jay Hernandez brings a great amount of sympathy into the character.

The film also gives a lot of cool Easter Eggs as well as some excellent Batman/Bruce Wayne cameos. Watch out for that mid-credits scene.

Over-all, Suicide Squad is a fun movie worth watching. If only for some of the funniest bits of dark humor, you should go out and catch it.

My Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

Directed By: David Ayer

Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman who is delicious, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood who is even more delicious.

With cameos from Ben Affleck and Ezra Miller, plus a brief photographic appearance by Jason Momoa.




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