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Suicide Squad

Directed by David Ayer

Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood and Cara Delevingne

Sometimes, superhero movies help you see beloved childhood stories in entirely fresh ways. Other times, they deliver tired tropes of familiar characters, with plot lines crafted only to set up money-making sequels.

Suicide Squad is a nightmare. With a storyline and background score making you feel like you’re trapped in a sadistically put-together marathon of dark-crime-operas. There are lots of awful films out there, and one would ignore this, label it avoidable (wise course of action) and move on, but this is much worse than a mere bad film. Suicide Squad is unforgivably regressive. Under the guise of ‘superhero film, based on the DC Comics antihero,’ the film paints the picture of a Government and a city in the aftermath of Superman’s death, that makes you wince; a disastrously worded world whose characters are not just saccharine but suicide-provoking. There is precious little to be said for the story.

There’s the germ of an interesting idea here. The Fury (2014) director David Ayer took a fair amount of needless pop-music cue for just about everything. Writer-director David Ayer struck by the ‘Substance Syndrome’ in his distracting inconsistencies ran everything through his cliche-grinder and everything goes atrociously awful. In the hands of another director—Christopher Nolan of the Dark Knight movies or Joss Whedon of the The Avenger films come immediately to mind—this and other moral quandaries might have been drawn out in intriguing ways.

When the movie finally hits the screen, two hours into this superhero sludge pile, you realize that it’s also been falsely billed — because the real beat-down isn’t on ‘worst heroes’ in tights, but on the popcorn-chewing suckers fidgeting in their seats.

The premise is pretty hoary to begin with (since a few may inexplicably, masochistically, still be curious,) where in the DC Universe the most powerful and corrupt government has always been the United States of America and controlling its darkest corners is Amanda Waller. She assembles the baddest asses in the world from Louisiana’s Belle Rive prison to eradicate even badder ones from somewhere else in the universe; (kind of like making a conscience-deficient dictator next president of the USA.) Character introductions were bias with supercut of footage that introduces Will Smith’s character Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s character Harley Quinn. And then they just quickly glimpsed over Boomerang, El Diablo, and Killer Croc. Katana showed up from nowhere, and Slipknot disappeared as quickly as he appeared. Their mission: to execute a black ops mission and receive clemency. The exposition sets up an anticipation and the ‘Suicide Squad’ practically bashes viewers over the head with reminders that its leads are villains. “We’re bad guys, it’s what we do!” says Quinn at one point after smashing a department store window. However, the first act ends and the zany plot begins almost instantly when the conflict and villain are simultaneously revealed.

The enemy ends up being a barrage of berry-headed minions and it begins to feel like an annoying video game. Step into a room, kill all bad guys, move on to the next room and repeat. The film embraces the arch idiocy inherent in its premise – as when a flaming skeleton grapples with a giant wizard, while a man-who-is-also-a-crocodile plants a bomb underneath them; Suicide Squad offers more unself-conscious fun than many of its more sombre, proudly joyless blockbuster brethren. The movie though found a little coherence once the Squad found its purpose with the rescue mission and wasn’t interrupted by random backstory interjections.

The way the makers set up the plot in the beginning was incomplete due to poor transitions and explanations. The idea of Waller getting the approval from the Pentagon bosses to assemble the Squad by showing off Enchantress’ magical powers seems horrible. Clara Delevingne’s Enchantress is a monumental waste of a villain; she seems more like an alien interloper who brought her extraterrestrial vendettas to our humble planet, knocking down an entire urban skyline in the process. The script just uses her as that tried trope of a world ending threat that we’ve seen so many times. The film does nothing new with it, nor does it try to do it well, even if it is a familiar trope. Her acting is just so atrocious and laughable.

The only good thing that one can say about Jared Leto is that he isn’t awful. He is offensively bad, hams it up like crazy, and speaks in a weird accent as the Joker, a character heavily teased in the trailers whose role in the story amounted to horrific disappointment. He is all costume and makeup. Having said that, he isn’t an actor at all (in this film of course,) standing around with a stupid grin and green hair, working on his lying-posture on the floor surrounded by knives and simply chewing up the scenery. No screen presence at all, this significantly maladroit child, with all metal teeth and method acting, tragically does everything in his power to accentuate the similarity with Heath Ledger’s iconic performance. From angular gestures to insane laugh and even accent replication methodical enough to be the work of a mimic, he tries to be either Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson.

Will Smith as Deadshot the world’s deadliest sniper was both cynical and sarcastic at times, while giving off his “I don’t give a shit about anyone, except for my daughter” attitude. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is pretty much the cold hearted selfish bitch of a leader that you would expect in here. As for the supporting characters, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo & Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc were unrecognizable who try to bring out some depth and hood life to their characters; while Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang & Karen Fukuhara as Katana were a lot weaker for their parts, (but they pretty much serve their part for the story.)

Oh, and Margot Robbie must have been seriously smitten to sign on this script. Or act this inanely dotty. She’s a singularly attractive actress with considerable talent and charisma, but this is a performance calculated to send her into peculiar looney-tune lunacy. Her train wreck acting job is far more suited to pornography than actual cinema. We see a seductively lascivious blonde with pigtails dyed red and blue, artfully smeared lipstick, a tattooed face (“rotten” is scrawled across her jawline); she is a gum-snapping post-adolescent Lolita beating crap out of enemies with a club.

Seeing the director string out this painfully contrived bit of pap almost makes you wish he had ripped another movie off. Oh, of course it’s derivative enough already, but at least he could have had a coherent storyline instead of this hideously hackneyed pile of unconvincing-mush.

In the end ‘Suicide Squad’ works fine as a brainless action movie and fans of the characters will certainly enjoy it to some extent. A consistent tone is never established. The action is choppy and the climax reaches “Green Lantern” levels of embarrassment, and can’t escape the miasma of miserabalism. We have green-haired-metal-mouthed Joker, an ace sniper, a government bigwig, a chemical romance which is an intriguingly toxic love affair and, and — amid an unending stream of characters and scenes– many a sillyloquy. That’s it, and if neither of these unspectacular slices of celluloid have you thrilled, forget this film. There’s nothing else on offer.

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