Friday, August 26, 2016

SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)

Written & Directed by David Ayer


Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. August 9, 2016 5:45PM


What would happen if we lost one super-powered crime-fighter and became concerned that if another one came around, we might not be able to control them?

According to "Suicide Squad", the wildly hyper-active yet logically dim comic-book action caper, the answer would be to round up some of the world's most dangerous and amoral super-villains, attempt to control their actions and force them to do good. Based on the popular DC comic, the film wants to shake up the routine of what we have come to expect from our super-hero movies. And while writer and director David Ayer has an interesting concept to work with, he's not found a way to make the motivation behind this theory dramatically plausible or coherent. Because of this fatal flaw, "Suicide Squad" ultimately winds up falling in to the predictable formula that we've come to expect from these action thrillers but without nearly enough fun.

Our story begins where we left off at the end of "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" after the apparent demise of Superman. Locked inside a super-maximum security prison, run by a bone-headed security officer (Ike Barinholtz), are a sorted collection of super-baddies. We have Will Smith, in a rare turn as part of ensemble, as Deadshot, a never-miss-his-target assassin who is secretly trying to be a loving and devoted father to his young daughter. There is also George "Digger" Harkness (Jai Courtney) otherwise known as "Captain Boomerang", a foul-mannered Aussie who uses the device to cause harm. Due to a genetic condition, Waylon Jones (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) has a reptilian appearance and a deadly appetite which is why he's known as "Killer Croc". Chato Santana (Jay Hernandez) is a L.A. gang-banger that has the destructive power to control fire. Finally, we have the former psychiatrist, Harleen Quinzel who has turned in to the psychotic, Harley Quinn. Played with deranged gusto by Margot Robbie, this lethal beauty struts around in skimpy attire, multi-colored hair and armed with a baseball bat, ready to use it for anything other than sports.

If these criminals cooperate with helping to save the world, they will have some time taken off their sentences. However, as a safeguard, each one is implanted with a device that will cause their heads to explode if they get any ideas of trying to escape. The architect behind this deranged plan is Amanda Waller, an ambitious and ruthlessly driven U.S. government official, played by Viola Davis. The presence of this respected actress brings some much needed gravitas to somehow make this crazy scheme seem practical. She almost makes it work.

One of the first under Waller's control was the Enchantress (British model, Cara Delevingne). A once-worshiped evil entity imprisoned in a shrine for thousands of years until an archaeologist, Dr. June Moone discovers her tomb, releasing this powerful sorceress who takes possession of the doctor's body. While Waller was able to bring out The Enchantress when needed, she manages to outsmart the government agent, escaping from under her command and takes over Dr. Moone completely.

Angered by her treatment, the Enchantress plans to destroy all of humanity. After setting her brother, Incubus (Alain Chanoine) free and summoning a horde of monsters to fight, her idea is to spend a great deal of time creating a device that will wipe out the planet. Huh?? I guess we're supposed to ignore the fact that we've already seen that this evil enchantress could easily have done this deed with a simple wave of her hand. Now, I'm well aware you must suspend a certain amount of belief when watching a film involving super-powered beings but it's difficult to do when underdeveloped characters and weak storytelling feels beneath working my brain so hard. Besides if it all came to an end so easily and quickly, we wouldn't have gotten the experience of watching this assembled squad of bad guys routinely crack wise and fight together to fight a terrible force worse than themselves. Or would that really have been such a bad thing?

In addition, with a film already overstuffed with mayhem and badness, we have the iconic, green-haired villain, The Joker. Desperate to be reunited with his lady love, Harley Quinn, he causes his own mix of destruction in order to set her free. Jared Leto plays The Joker here in a performance that feels surprisingly muted considering the opportunity to go as large and extreme as possible with this homicidal character. Following in the impressive footsteps of Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger in this role, Leto doesn't offer much to make his appearance special or memorable.

Much Like "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice", "Suicide Squad" is all about the high-powered, visual spectacle. Story, character and performance trails far behind in regards of importance here. That makes this film engaging for about a good thirty minutes with the rest of the running time spent waiting for the credits to roll. And with Ben Affleck's Batman showing up along with The Flash and Aquaman popping-up for brief cameos, this also serves as cheap promotion for the inevitable upcoming films. I will sum up "Suicide Squad" quite simply. It's not exciting. It's not much fun. And it's not very good.