Sunday, 7 August 2016

Suicide Squad (2016/US)

Julien Faddoul

(0 stars)

wd – David Ayer
ph – Roman Vasyanov
pd – Oliver Scholl
m – Steven Price
ed – John Gilroy
cos – Kate Hawley

p – Charles Roven, Richard Suckle

Cast: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Adam Beach

Suicide Squad is a terrible movie; it announces itself as such from frame one. It is a movie so dumb and wasteful that I found it to be an affront to the art form of which it was made. But not in the same way I feel about most bad movies.

Most bad movies fill one with anger to the point of despondency. Suicide Squad isn’t like that. Suicide Squad is more like a drunk at a pool hall who bothers everyone by yelling obscenities and hostilely declaring his superior punching skills. He will eventually stumble over something and pass out before the night’s end and one can’t help but feel sorry for him. Suicide Squad is a movie I feel sorry for.

Cinematography, design, editing and performance are all uniformly dreadful. One feels that if each set-piece were rearranged and placed in the wrong order, there would’ve been no difference. The film is written and directed by David Ayer, who has shown competence in the past (though his last film Fury (2014) was also a mess) but Suicide Squad barely seems directed at all. Some of the mistakes that the film makes are so straightforward they’re hilarious. The one that made me laugh the loudest involved the participation of one of the squad’s members, who, within seconds of his introduction, is immediately killed.

Suicide Squad is the third film in the current phase of The DC Extended Universe of movies based on DC Comic Books. In this regard, it is extremely presumptuous. The film has no interest in setting up its players with any clarity or congruity. This is not because of their ubiquitousness within the current culture (I’d never heard of most of them), but because they aren’t really characters at all. They are pawns, with nothing of particular importance to set up.

Despite this, the film’s plot seems to initiate three or four times in its first act. The rest of the plot takes place over the course of a few hours. This led me to literally – not that I encourage this – exclaim “What!” out loud when a character refers to the squad as his family, “I lost my first family, I won’t lose my second”. Umm…I have known these people for just about as long as you have…

Anyway, let me attempt a synopsis: Comic book villains are assembled to outdo a worse threat. And if at any point you somehow forget that these characters are supposed to be bad guys, never fear because they will remind you every chance they get with terrifying lines like “We’re the bad guys” and “Remember, we’re bad guys” and “We’re bad. It’s what we do”. Also, whenever the script fails at this task, the soundtrack is there to assist. Some of these unbearably on-the-nose songs include “You Don’t Own Me”, “Sympathy for the Devil”, “SuperFreak” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”.

Sorry, got off track. The team is assembled by Amanda Waller, a joyless U.S. intelligence officer (Viola Davis) who wants to have a plan, she explains, “if the next Superman turns out to be a terrorist.” To that end she recruits the curdled squad, including Deadshot (Will Smith, who I guess is the film’s main character because he loves his daughter or something), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, whose behind in this film seems to impress Mr Ayer quite a bit), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman, as dull as he usually is), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney, even duller), Diablo, a human flamethrower (Jay Hernandez, diving squarely into a horribly racist LA gangbanger stereotype) and others but, you know what, I’ve run out of vigor.

There is also a new incarnation of the Joker, played by Jared Leto, who’s role here consists of less than 10 minutes of screen time, every second of which is mishandled by both Mr Ayer and Mr Leto. The film’s main antagonist is Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) who can turn people into blobs. Don’t ask.

I truly believe it is almost impossible to think Suicide Squad is smarter than you. We muster contempt and exasperation as we are forced to suffer through its presence. But just like the lowlife at the pool hall, we can’t help but gaze and wonder what harmful and regrettable circumstances lead to this path in life. And in the end, all we can do is ignore and try and have some fun someplace else.

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