Suicide Squad, by Albert W. Vogt III

In previous reviews I mentioned how when I see an awful movie, particularly modern ones, I come up with fanciful explanations as to why it was so bad. I am sure they bear no resemblance whatsoever to the truth. Incompetence is real, and given the size of so many Hollywood productions it is expected that not everyone involved in the filmmaking process will totally understand the bigger picture. Yet, because I sit through so many movies that fail on one level or another, in order to entertain myself (as what is in front of me is failing to do so) I invent stories behind these sad productions. Here is what I think happened with Suicide Squad (2016). There was a person, somewhere, who wrote this movie. I suspect Zack Snyder, though David Ayer gets the dubious honor in the credits. At any rate, it was handed off to whoever is “in charge” of making movies for DC Comics (again, I feel like it is Snyder), and then it was chopped into various pieces and given to random people to film. I also believe they were not told what they were filming or anything about the adjoining scenes. I cannot think of any other reason for its disjointed nature where characters pop in and out for no logical reason. Read the rest of the review to see if you agree with this assessment.

Suicide Squad does not begin so much as dump you into a middle of a bunch of stuff going on. There is Floyd Lawton/Deadshot (Will Smith) punching an improvised heavy bag in a jail cell. Nearby in the same prison is Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) hanging from the top of her enclosure. This same facility also houses Waylon Jones (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a half-man/half-crocodile creature (so creatively) known as Killer Croc, and Chato Santana, or El Diablo, a facial tattooed man who can control fire. Then the movie decides, wait, you might need to know how these people got to be incarcerated in this special prison. Thus it hurries through a backstory of . . . most of them. Killer Croc does not get one, for whatever reason. Anyway, these tales are told by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). I think she is a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent, though that is never explicitly said, and she is trying to convince other CIA types to let her form a group of people with abilities because Superman. Not all of them are in jail either. One of these special people is Dr. June Moone (Cara Delevingne), an archaeologist who stumbled upon an ancient sorceress who possessed her, causing her to become the Enchantress. Inexplicably she can change back and forth between the two personas, but whatever. She is also an evil being, but Waller thinks she can control her because she has her heart. Right. I am sure that will work out just fine. Oh, wait, everything goes to pot because the first chance the Enchantress gets she does a magic thing where she releases her brother, who inhabits a random businessman (Alain Chanoine) and becomes Incubus. Together, they begin conjuring a “machine” that will allow them to destroy the other machines they believe humans now worship and replace them with themselves in that place of exaltation. In response, Waller activates her team of bad guys, telling them that if they help out they will have some concessions with their prison sentences. Also, if they try to escape their heads will be blown up. However, they are not told what they are up against, nor does Waller seem particularly inclined to actually let them fight. So, after wandering around Midway City (it is Chicago) for a little while, killing a few creatures created by the Enchantress and Incubus, and generally getting nowhere, Waller makes the decision to pull them out. It is arbitrary, and it does not work. And yet, when they find out what is really going on, neither do our heroes(?) seem to want to lay down their lives. But then they have a few drinks and they think, what the heck, why not give it a shot. So, they go to confront the magical siblings, El Diablo dies in the process, and the day is saved. Everyone is returned to prison, but Harley Quinn is broken out by The Joker (Jared Leto). And it stops.

In my attempt to make sense of Suicide Squad, I left out a great deal. For example, perhaps because they thought four was not enough, as the title squad comes together, they toss in a few extra characters. One of them, Christopher Weiss/Slipknot (Adam Beach), whose sole purpose for being in the movie is to demonstrate how the device in their necks will explode if they attempt to escape. There is George “Digger” Harkness (Jai Courtney), who, being Australian, is good with that famous weapon/toy from Down Under and goes by the sobriquet Captain Boomerang. So there is a double dose of dumb for you in one character. He had actually been discussed from the beginning, interspersing his story as randomly as anything else in this movie. But because he was not held in the same prison, I could not think of a logical way of fitting him in without bogging down the proceedings. Then again, neither could the filmmakers, so I do not feel too bad about leaving him out where they did not. He literally does nothing the entire film. There is also perhaps the coolest character in the movie, though equally stereotypical, Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana (Karen Fukuhara). I will let you work out for yourself her country of origin. She just walks onto the helicopter (which are also apparently impossible to die in if they crash) when they are about to head to the city. She has a sword that entraps the souls of people she kills, a bit of backstory that is said in an offhanded way in order to laughably explain why she is with them. The person who says this is the other important person I forgot to mention, and that is Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). Oh yeah, there is a large military presence both keeping an eye on the bad-good guys and attempting to save the world. He is also in love with Dr. Moone, so . . . motivation? What is probably the most egregious flaw, though, of this entire film is that you see both Batman (Ben Affleck) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) doing crime stopping things. They are classic DC superheroes, and yet we are supposed to buy that while all the crazy, planet threatening events are going on, they are sitting it out? What? I might (and I cannot emphasize that word enough) have bought the premise a little more if two things had happened: first, they reordered the plot in a sensible fashion; two, they leave out Batman and The Flash.

We should give everyone a chance to redeem themselves. That seems like the message they were going for with Suicide Squad. It is a Christian principle and it is embodied in the character of Deadshot. Despite being a hitman and a criminal, he has a daughter by whom he is trying to do right. To be sure, he is paying for his crimes by being put back into prison. Still, he is the only person in this film onto which this Catholic could find any resonance. I would say El Diablo since he sacrifices himself in the end, but then there is his moniker and the fact that he feels like his powers come from the devil. While he does not act like an idiot (read Harley Quinn), I cannot say that I sympathized much with him. In any case, I like characters who care about being redeemed, and none of them really do, aside from that little glimmer of something you get from Deadshot. Hence, there is no arc for any of the . . . well, there are no main characters here, but whatever. The point is that without any development, there is no movie. Without a movie, there is no point in watching it. In sum, do not watch it.

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