20160804

A film review: 'Suicide Squad' enters the uncharted Ayer Keroh.

Origin: United States · Language: English
Director & writer: David Ayer 
Genre: Superhero · Release: August 5, 2016

Casts:
 Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Will Smith,
Margot Robbie, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney,
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara,
Adam Beach, Jared Leto, Cara Delevigne

More info: IMDb

A Watchmen and The Killing Joke later, it's here.

The most anticipated film in the DC Extended Universe / DCEU (yeah, not Batman v. Superman OR the other movies, but JUST THIS) is finally released! Even though this team was out there for a while, I was hooked when Batman: Assault on Arkham was out. Why? It's because of the team's dynamics. Most of the members are incarcerated supervillains plus extra participants tasked by the ruthless head of the ARGUS program Amanda Waller. In exchange for a shortened time in their jail cells, they had to do covert operations for the US government that could kill them due to either getting wasted in the field or got their brains blown to bits thanks to a nanobomb implanted into their necks should they disobey; but the thing is, the US government will not be responsible for their deaths whatsoever. This makes for an interesting spin on the whole live-action superhero genre, right? Keep dreaming. And thanks to my regular movie-going buddy, he managed to wake me up to the atrocities that the film have before clouding myself into thinking that the film is good just because Cara Delevigne is barely clothed and Margot Robbie couldn't stop flirting with me. Oh, wait.

Thanks to Movie Addict again, I am one of the very few to preview the film before its release on Thursday, August 4, without spending a dime. And just like Snyder's previous DC outings, this is yet another polarizing film... and he's not even the director/writer of this one! His aura is strong in this cinematic universe! What is this Ayer Keroh you give to us (super inexcusable pun is definitely intended), David Ayer? I had high hopes when I saw Fury and Sabotage, two films with some elements that I think can totally be incorporated into Suicide Squad! What's up? Even an excellent casting and performances couldn't mask how choppy the movie really is! But there are some good things here and there. Follow me as I review DC's latest attempt at keeping up with Marvel's Hollywood dominance in this third installment of the DCEU.

I will try my best to do a SPOILER-FREE review, so bear with me.

In this film, the Task Force X a.k.a. the "Suicide Squad" is assembled by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and consists of Floyd Lawton / Deadshot (Will Smith), Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Digger Harkness / Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Waylon Jones / Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Chato Santana / El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Christopher Weiss / Slipknot (Adam Beach), and June Moon / Enchantress (Cara Delevigne). They are then escorted by Waller's trusted operative Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and his bodyguard Tatsu Yamashiro / Katana (Karen Fukuhara). And then there's Joker (Jared Leto) somewhere in the film. Their mission? To kayfabe rescue Amanda Waller in a city somewhere and later save that city from a certain threat. Uh, yeah. If I say too much, it'll spoil the plot

In this film, while Ayer's efforts in introducing the members in an edgy and upbeat kind of way using bright neon colour palette and flashy graphics were laudable, it shattered the illusion of being a grittier spin on the DC universe by over-stylising their brief introductions and aspects of the film's plot and actor performances, making it effectively a live-action cartoon film that is just too tacky for my liking. Also, it's so edgy, the editor just decided to screw cutting points and just insert random shots one after the other! It is because of this editing that some moments just didn't look and feel right. Maybe it's because of the whole reshoot deal? Damn you, studio execs. What's your game?

On how it weighs against another film that also feature the Squad, Assault on Arkham? Plot wise, their rescue mission is also as vague the one in this film, but that is saved by the members' eccentric personality and petty fights because of their conflicting personalities, which makes the animated film very entertaining to watch, complimented by some wicked action sequences and stakes should they decide to ditch their assigned missions. While the action scenes are quite entertaining (good lord, that Deadshot scene!), the bonding part however is unfortunately almost absent. Even if it's there, it's very brief (that bar scene in the trailers is still there... but was butchered quite a lot!).

 Now, let's go to the performances. List mode on (this is, after all, an ensemble film):
  • After a string of unimpressive works by Will Smith, I can say that Deadshot is the perfect role for him that sort of broken that streak. His role has enough heart and the only reason to justify this film's PG13 rating. He seems to be really enjoying his time in most of the scenes he's in. 
  • Same goes to his Focus co-star Margot Robbie who, despite being sexualized (actually, all of the female Squad members are kind of sexualised), is a joy to watch as a fun-loving, cuckoo sidekick and lover of Jared Leto's Joker. Harley Quinn is definitely bae!
  • And oh, my. Jared Leto's The Joker. Before he about to explode in this new rendition of the character, his parts were either abruptly cut out or were literally not quite there; as in, he doesn't have enough scenes. Not really sure what's his role was, but he's there... for reasons (oh, I know; for marketing stunts and some watered-down disturbing scenes with Harley Quinn!).
  • Jai Courtney as Boomerang? Ayer had some pretty interesting ideas for this guy, but it was never put to any good use. It's nice to see Courtney act comfortably as he got to speak his native Australian tongue and all (Boomerang is after all an Aussie even in the comics and other media), but he's been reduced to simply just a goofball and there was barely any killer boomerang-throwing. Bummer, mate. I was rooting for you to be a thing.
  • Jay Hernandez's El Diablo and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Killer Croc were textbook stereotypes of their respective races; El Diablo is a Latino gangster, while Killer Croc is a... *sigh* wannabe black gangster (for a vicious monster, this portrayal is just plain disrespectful). Backstory wise, El Diablo had some intense stuff going on, but is vaguely explored. Killer Croc's characterization however... was not quite explained at all. He's just an angry man-croc.
  • Cara Delevigne's June Moone / Enchantress did something very distracting. If I say too much on her, you would commit suicide. But I can say this: her introduction and her alignment showed promise, but as the film progresses, her story is not quite there for us to get why she's doing what she's doing.
  • Karen Fukuhara's Katana? Well, she slashes stuff, and say stuff in Japanese, effectively an anime caricature. And I just don't get her skimpy inner shirt. Was that totally necessary?
  • Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flag? Thank God Tom Hardy dropped out of this one. While Hardy do have the physique and look of a tough military operative, it's good that he didn't get to play a rather sappy rendition of the character. Thank you, The Revenant!
  • Viola Davis's Amanda Waller? Well, some of her remorselessness remained intact, but suddenly she was turned into a damsel in distress for a brief moment. If Waller was a real person, she'd kill Ayer for making her frailty apparent even for just one second! 
  • Adam Beach's Slipknot? What a bad example!
All in all, this is just a fan service film that went kinda south. While the formula of straight away introducing a team of superheroes in Guardians of the Galaxy without a proper build-up works, I can't say the same for this team. Their backstories are everywhere, my head got screwed. But hey, at least the cast sort of had fun doing this shit, and the soundtracks were far more excellent that the film itself (but not its placement, really; it's like watching a Malay film, where the music doesn't really know when to let up!). If you want to appreciate on things other than the obvious technical difficulties that might still ruin your viewing pleasure, you can totally ignore my good vs. evil review and just support DC and Warner Bros. so that they have enough fund to spend more time in planning a more refined film universe, or simply more refined standalone films. Or wait for the film's cash-grabbing Ultimate Cut edition. It's the execs' jam.

Worst Heroes Ever? Yikes. It's a jinx!


P/S: And dear Warner Bros., please tell David Ayer that if he wants to stay and direct this film's sequel, ask him to get the ratio of campiness and grittiness right next time. If that still doesn't work, just refuse doing more superhero movies, okay Ayer? You're better than this. Wonder Woman, you're next. 

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