Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In short: Suicide Squad (2016)

Like all DC superhero movies not directed by Christopher Nolan, David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is at times tough going, full of awkward tonal shifts, scenes that don’t serve any function beyond making the film longer (I shudder to think what the “extended cut” adds to a film that’s at least twenty minutes too long already), and featuring cameos from Affleck-Batman (which is to say, the Batman who is only not worse than the Clooney version because he’s not in Joel Schumacher films) and Jared Leto, the first movie Joker that can only be described as boring and would-be edgy.

There are numerous script problems. Namely, the first twenty minutes are a barrage of exposition and horrible dialogue, followed by ten minutes of posturing (the film’s pretty heavy on assumed coolness through posing anyway) before something akin to a plot evolves. And then there’s the sad fact that the thing clearly doesn’t know what to do with most of its characters (hint: copy more and better from Ostrander and Yale’s run on the comics next time), leaving the actors hanging – they might just as well have called the film “Deadshot & Harley & Some Other Guys”.

On the positive side, Will Smith is a much better Deadshot than I expected, even though I much prefer the suicidally depressed version of the character to the “killer who has a daughter and is therefore likeable” trope the film goes for, and Margot Robbie makes a fine Harley in search of a better Joker.

Generally, the film’s second hour works much better than first one, mostly because it finally stops with the introductions and the exposition and starts to show us the characters actually doing stuff instead of telling us that they are some day going to do stuff or once have done stuff. The action’s not particularly great or inventive going by superhero blockbuster standards but it’s also not the embarrassment of the action in Deadpool (which, unlike apparently everyone else, I loathed quite a bit) or the boring never-ending carnage of Dawn of the Justice League. And while the writing generally stays clichéd as all get-out (even for a genre that thrives on its clichés), it does at the very least hit the right clichés in the end. Why, there are even a handful of scenes that suggest a more interesting film about redemption and hitting monsters with baseball bats.

I don’t know how to call a film whose first hour is a tedious mess and whose second one is perfectly decent popcorn cinema, but Suicide Squad is that movie.

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