So, Suicide Squad was out for about a week before I had the opportunity to see it, and the reviews in that week were . . . not kind. I’d heard from a few people directly who enjoyed the movie, but overall it was sounding like yet another DC live action fail.
The thing is I’m, like, contrary and opinionated and shit, so despite the poor press, I had to make my way to the theater to try it out myself.
Ultimately, it’s a bit of a hot mess. More than a bit, honestly; I want to edit the holy shit out of this movie. On the upside, it’s way more enjoyable than Man of Steel or BvS!
After the events of BvS, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) puts together a team of supervillains–including Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and a few other people that are obviously less important–to work suicidally dangerous ops for the government. Things go . . . sideways. And upside down. And basically any other direction that means “not good.”
1. The majority of reviews I’ve seen for Suicide Squad have lambasted it for being a tonal disaster. The basic idea seems to be that David Ayer made what was presumably a typically uber-dark DC film. The studio panicked after the harsh critique of BvS and wanted a considerably lighter film, especially after people responded so positively to the incredibly fun trailers. The studio interfered, and everything was ruined.
Here’s my thing: I actually didn’t have huge problems with the overall tone. With one specific scene, yes. That scene has tonal weirdness. But pretty much everything about that scene is troublesome for me, from its placement in the overall story to the problematic character backstory that’s revealed to the fact that it doesn’t include prominent dialogue that was featured in the trailer, like, come on, dudes, everyone hates that crap. Suicide Squad has a bit of a weird tone, sure, but sometimes I like a weird tone, and sparkly ultra-violence with sucker punch moments of Holy Shit Dark! and/or Holy Shit Feels! is actually kind of my jam. So, yeah, tone? Not actually a big problem I have with the film.
Structure, on the other hand . . . Oh. My. GOD.
Obviously, I’ll talk in more detail about this during the Spoiler Section, but for now . . . just . . . good Lord. The movie has one introduction it doesn’t need at all. Then it has two further introductions when one would have sufficed. It has an ensemble cast to balance (admittedly, a difficult thing to do) and falls spectacularly short of giving the team equal screen time. We’re told things up front that are later treated like Big Reveals. The plot is simple and should work, yet manages to feel muddled with unnecessary flashbacks and action sequences that just don’t stand out. It’s almost bizarre, how badly the story is laid out.
2. On the upside, I generally enjoy almost all the actual characters! Let’s discuss the team first.
Deadshot has the clearest personal arc and the most screen time, and despite being the most softened version of Deadshot I’ve ever seen . . . you know, he’s still a lot of fun. I didn’t anticipate this going into the film, but halfway through the movie I realized that I’ve kind of missed Will Smith, especially in this summer blockbuster type shit. Obviously, he’s acted in plenty of things over the years, but the last Will Smith movie I watched in theater was I, Robot back in 2004. So, this was sort of cool. I like all of his scenes with his daughter (especially the final one), and he has a good deal of seemingly natural chemistry with Margot Robbie.
Performance-wise, she’s pretty much perfection. Robbie really seems to have a good handle on the spirit of Harley Quinn, and it was a lot of fun for this childhood Batman: The Animated Series fan to finally see a live-action Harley on the big screen. Also, her voice sounds pretty decent, particularly considering Robbie’s Australian. She’s obviously not Arleen Sorkin or Tara Strong, but I was still happy.
Ultimately, I’m disappointed with Harley’s actual arc–more on that later–but Robbie is easily still the shining star of the movie. I would absolutely watch a spin-off film with just her and Deadshot, although preferably with different people behind the camera.
So, Diablo has significant problems for me, but unfortunately, I can’t discuss any of them until the Spoiler Section. Jay Hernandez does a pretty good job with the role, though; I’m just disappointed because I’d rather see him in almost any other part.
Although to be fair, while he doesn’t quite rack up screen time like Deadshot and Harley Quinn, Diablo gets considerably more to do than the rest of the people on his team. So, that’s something, I guess.
For instance, this guy. Captain Boomerang is mostly around to say a few funny lines and then quickly fade into the background. He has no emotional or personal arc to speak of and very much strikes me like he’s supposed to be the Funny Guy on the team . . . except most of the funny lines are handed to Deadshot and Harley Quinn, which doesn’t leave him a whole lot to do. On the upside, this is easily the most personality I’ve ever actually seen from Jai Courtney. (Which is a deeply unfair thing to say because I’ve never actually watched any of his movies, just trailers for Terminator Genisys and A Good Day to Die Hard. It’s just that those trailers have severely underwhelmed me.)
I could potentially enjoy watching more Captain Boomerang, you know, if they bothered to give him something to do the next go-around.
Of course, even Captain B might be better off than Killer Croc, who’s just . . . like, I don’t even know why they have him in this movie. I mean, I do: he’s supposed to be the big inhuman heavy, like, I’m thinking a more villainous version of Groot: he shouldn’t talk a lot, but when he does, it’s to say something hilarious. It’s super archetypal, of course, but it works and it doesn’t even require a lot of screen time: you just need a few standout moments where he’s totally awesome. And yet when I try to think back to a Killer Croc moment that stands out, any funny line or action scene that highlights his specific badass-ness . . . I’ve got nothing. (The same goes for Captain Boomerang, particularly when it comes to action scenes. The Thor movies make good use of Thor’s hammer. The Captain America movies make good use of Cap’s shield. And yet Captain Boomerang’s boomerang? Yeah, not so much.)
It probably doesn’t help that Killer Croc is nearly impossible to hear. I like Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in plenty of things (Lost and The Mummy Returns, for instance), but he’s just utterly wasted here.
Katana’s lack of screen time may depress me even more than King Croc’s, though, because everything about this woman is awesome, and yet we get to see so little of her. She’s a Japanese badass seeking revenge for her refrigerated husband, and her sword contains the souls of every person she’s cut down. (Including her Dead Hubby, who someone killed with her sword. More importantly, she talks to Dead Hubby through the sword. So. AWESOME.) Based on this description alone, I want to see a Katana movie NOW, and yet she has basically nothing to do here, like, again, I’m a total loss to understand what she’s even doing in the film.
Flag is the only other good guy on the team besides Katana, and he’s . . . okay, I guess. He gets more to do than the last three people I mentioned; it’s just that none of what he has to do is terribly interesting. I suspect his dullness is more of a writing thing than an acting thing, although I’m admittedly not very familiar with Kinnaman’s other work. (I watched maybe a whole two episodes of The Killing.) But yeah, he’s pretty boring. If Suicide Squad actually gets a sequel, the writers need to infuse him with a personality, STAT.
3. As far as our other characters go:
Viola Davis is obviously a great talent, and she does a perfectly good job with Amanda Waller–like a more homicidal (yet also more emotionally stable) version of Annalise Keating–but I still can’t help wish that someone else had been cast. It didn’t have to be CCH Pounder (even though it obviously should have been, probable scheduling conflicts aside), but Viola Davis is not a large woman, and goddamn it, Amanda Waller is. Admittedly, I appreciate them not casting someone incredibly thin (like Cynthia Addai-Robinson, who played Waller on Arrow), but it’s still frustrating to finally have an opportunity to see a badass fat woman on the big screen, only to not go forward with it. It’s not surprising, obviously, but frustrating? Yes.
That said, Viola Davis effortlessly commands every scene she’s in, and her performance is one of the only solidly good things about the movie, so . . . you know. It’s good and yet vexing, all at the same time.
So, Enchantress has the potential to be an awesome villain. Her backstory is interesting. She looks cool. And it’s kind of neat to have a female supervillain again, like, when was the last superhero movie to feature a female Big Bad? X-Men: The Last Stand, maybe? I mean, you know, that was only 10 YEARS AGO. Oh, let me walk that back: I guess, technically, The Dark Knight Rises would count too. All right, fine, only 4 years ago, then. We can still do better.
This probably isn’t going to shock you at this point, but despite the Enchantress’s potential, the execution is somewhat lacking. Delevingne herself seems fine. Unfortunately, her story is criminally underwritten, and frustratingly, scenes that should be about her often feel like they’re about a different character instead. Also, her Big Bad Agenda is vague and pretty bland. She’s not the absolute worst villain I’ve ever seen, or anything, but she could have been a lot more fun.
And, finally, this motherfucker.
Performance-wise, Jared Leto works okay for me. I mean, I don’t know if he’s worth all this crap (actually, I do, and he’s not, because no one is–method acting, I swear to God), but he’s perfectly respectable in the part; if Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson both went for campy, Heath Ledger went for Chaotic Evil, and Mark Hamill went for, oh, sheer perfection, then I’d say Jared Leto went for sadistic glee, like, this guy is more about colorfully costumed torture porn than electroshock zappers or balloon animals filled with acid. In fact, he might be a pretty good Joker for a live-action adaptation of The Killing Joke. (Note: I never, ever want to see this. PLEASE never make this movie, DC.)
The Joker is a problem, though, because he has pretty much zero bearing on the plot. We don’t spend a ton of time with the Joker, but it’s still way more than we need for a guy that could easily be cut out of the story. He either needed to do something of considerably more significance, or else be cut down to a cameo.
4. One of the reasons I’m marking this review as a Blasphemy is that I seem to disagree with every single person on the planet (other than my sister) on tone. The other reason, though, is that most people seem to be blaming the studio’s reshoots for why the film failed, and I’m not entirely certain I agree.
Of course it’s hard to know for sure, considering I never saw what the original cut of this movie was like. I am pretty sure that the studio’s interference was at least partially responsible for how the story structure was Frankensteined together, and that’s a serious problem, but . . . despite how much needs to be fixed, there are still elements that I really, really enjoyed. Other than the stellar cast, I liked the colorful fonts, the intro stats, the in-your-face-and-far-too-on-the-nose soundtrack. This was FAR less of a grim, boring slog than either Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. Was it great? No. Good? No, that’s probably pushing it too. But if someone wanted to me watch this one again with them, I could easily do it. If someone wanted me to watch Man of Steel again, I’d demand to get paid for it.
I have been exceedingly unimpressed with how DC has handled its dark, gritty stories, like, I don’t even have a problem with grimdark and I still want to see DC learn how to balance some goddamn humor. This actually had humor. Was it a structural nightmare? Absolutely, but if the studio’s panic is the reason Suicide Squad wasn’t a completely boring 145 minute slog of protagonists making unrealistic and terrible life choices for the sake of Life is Dark, Man? Shit, I’m more than happy they did it.
5. People either seem to love the soundtrack or find it obnoxious. I’m . . . somewhere in the middle. It really probably is a bit too in-your-face sometimes, like, it does smack a teeny tiny bit of desperation. Still, I went with it and I found it generally enjoyable. I’ve certainly been listening to Suicide Squad playlists on Youtube all week, which has led to more than one dramatic lip-syncing of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I can tell you. (It’s also led me to The Airborne Toxic Event’s cover of “Goodbye Horses,” which is weird because–while I quite like the cover–it doesn’t appear to be on the soundtrack or in the movie, far as I can tell.)
6. I feel like it might be worth mentioning that DC goes all out in this film when it comes to SF/F comic weirdness. Like, sure, the previous films have had aliens (that, for the most part, looked just like us) and okay, a few incredibly brief mentions of meta-humans, but that’s about it. This one casually throws in magic and immortal beings and possessions and monsters and swords that contain souls and all sorts of shit.
This isn’t really a compliment or complaint (actually, in my mind, it’s kind of both), but I do find it interesting. Marvel has this hodgepodge of weird shit going on, too, of course, but Marvel also has been building a shared universe for a lot longer than DC has. DC is still playing catch-up, which means that they’re still learning their own voice (Alasdair Stuart has a good article on that in Tor.com that I mostly agree with.) It also means that sometimes I can’t help but get an impression of ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ from their movies.
I understand this isn’t how big studios work, but I do wish that maybe DC would consider slowing down their timetable just a bit, because while I desperately want them to have a win, I’m not convinced that dealing with their obvious growing pains while trying to keep up with Marvel’s pace is really doing them any favors. Quality over quantity, you know?
7. Finally, before I get into the spoilerific meat of this review, I just wanted to say that Suicide Squad has a decent shot of winning either my Worst WTF Moment or my Most Unintentionally Hilarious Moment; I haven’t quite decided which yet. But it’s bad. It’s so laughably bad.
If you’d care to find out what it is, you’ll have to follow below.
Disclaimer: To discuss this movie in detail, I surprisingly feel the need to also discuss Battle Royale, so expect SPOILERS for that film as well. It was made nearly 20 years ago; you’ve had time.
I know you’re all excited to hear The Most Unbelievable Line of All Time (hint: Diablo says it) but first, let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
We start our movie with an introduction of both Deadshot and Harley Quinn in their cells at Belle Reve. The scenes themselves are fine, but they add absolutely nothing to the story, and it’s distinctly noticeable that no one else gets them. (To be fair, JJ Abrams’s Star Trek does something kind of similar when it singles out Kirk and Spock for introductory glimpses at their childhood, ignoring the rest of the crew, but it didn’t really bother me there. Here it feels so slapped on.)
We then cut to Amanda Waller selling the Suicide Squad (and helpfully introducing us to its members) to two government dudes, one of whom is Jim Hopper from Stranger Things! (One of the things I did enjoy during this movie was catching actors in small parts: I also saw Art Bell from Orphan Black and Hoyt from True Blood, although for whatever reason, I totally didn’t recognize Common as Monster T.)
This scene is fine, much better than the last, except we then proceed to Amanda Waller trying to sell the Suicide Squad to even more government dudes, and while I understand that doing anything in real life requires multiple meetings, there is absolutely no reason to have both scenes here. Although the second meeting does come with a nice shot of June Moone giving way to the Enchantress, so that’s kind of cool. And I suppose it does give us one of our only small glimpses at June Moone herself.
Oh, June Moone. Okay, so for people who didn’t watch the movie and are cheating by reading this–CHEATERS!!!–here’s the skinny: June is an archaeologist who’s a mite unluckier than Indiana Jones, so instead of finding the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail, she ended up getting possessed by the Enchantress. Bad luck, lady. This could be a pretty interesting story for June, but sadly, we barely ever meet her; the few scenes she actually has are almost exclusively viewed through the lens of her role as Rick Flag’s Love Interest. June has zero interiority, which is a serious problem for me; she is less of a character than a waif-like damsel-in-distress 100% of the time.
And unfortunately, Enchantress herself isn’t much more interesting. She could be interesting if she had a unique villainous plot, and/or we got to spend time with her and June fighting for control; alas, June gets no time at all, and Enchantress’s Big Evil Plan is to construct a generic Doom Machine of some kind that will apparently kill everybody on the planet. (It’s irony, see, cause humans worship machines now.) She also brings her brother back to life, so he can serve as her right hand man/Chief Henchman, but he’s even more boring than she is and easily replaceable by any random Level 9 Boss. Mostly, I wish he wasn’t in the movie at all–I think he just takes time away from Enchantress.
But I’ve gotten away from the story. Right, we were in the third version of the 1st act. Somehow, despite the multiple, repetitive introductions, the movie never once bothers to introduce Slipknot (Adam Beach).
This poor bastard. You can see his face in the background during Waller’s second meeting, but nobody ever actually talks about him at all. So when he’s randomly thrown in with the rest of the team, I’m like Oh, he’s a Nobu. He’s here to show that the bomb collar will really detonate, that it’s not a big bluff. The thing about Nobu, though, is that he isn’t immediately painted as such a Red Shirt in Battle Royale; that he’s eventually gonna die, oh yes, but not necessarily that he’ll die in the first ten minutes. So, Slipknot not getting any kind of introduction? Yeah, not so sure that works for me.
But I’ve skipped ahead again: everyone on the team is released from their cells, including Diablo, who doesn’t want to use his devastating pyrokinesis. Harley gets a nice moment where she looks at her original costume from The Animated Series; I definitely appreciated that little Easter Egg. And then things go badly when the Enchantress (who Amanda Waller originally intended to be on the team) gains full control of June and starts doing a bunch of villainous shit.
As far as the villainous shit goes: well, it’s muddled as hell. I don’t even remember all of it now. I know Enchantress wakes up her brother so he can start killing people in a subway station. If I remember correctly, we see Enchantress reveal her true evil self at this point, and then the scene cuts off–but not like in a Leverage way, where we know we’ll find out The Real Plan at the end of the movie. No, here we just suddenly flash back to this scene that I thought was already finished, and learn . . . things we mostly already knew? I don’t know; the whole thing’s bizarre.
So, okay, then the Suicide Squad goes in, and I initially assumed they were going after the Enchantress, but I must have missed a line or twelve because it turns out that their mission is to extract someone from the city. (Re-watching some clips, I realize where I missed the line.) Turns out, that person is Amanda Waller, which I think is a twist? It’s hard to say, since I only realized the Suicide Squad was trying to rescue someone about four minutes before they actually did. (Though I did figure out who they were rescuing before they opened the door. Yay me, I guess?) Meanwhile, the team has been fighting all these weird monster deals (who were once normal people) in a bunch of action scenes that should stand out but mostly don’t.
It’s weird because all of this should be doable. Like, okay, they fumbled the beginning, fine. But once the team starts the true action portion of the movie, it ought to work, cause, like, it’s not a complicated setup. You introduce your characters and then you give them an hour-and-a-half or so of awesome action sequences with the team fighting their way through the city until they come up against the Big Bad. I mean, that’s essentially the structure of Dredd, and it works fabulously there. But here it just fails, and I know why some stuff goes wrong, but I’m at a bit of loss to describe how the action scenes fall down. They’re just . . . muddy.
Anyway, they rescue Amanda Waller, who proceeds to kill a bunch of good guys because they knew too much and she’s a stone cold motherfucker. After that, the Joker comes by in his stolen helicopter to rescue Harley Quinn.
A few things of note:
A. Waller orders Deadshot to shoot Harley, but at the last moment Deadshot realizes he can’t do it (or chooses not to, anyway) and purposefully misses. I don’t fully buy this loyalty to Harley quite yet, but he does make a point of saying that he doesn’t kill women (though doesn’t mind threatening to smack them around, apparently), and he and Harley do have a cute villainous rapport, so I’m basically fine with it. (I will not feel the same about other happy fuzzy team moments later, but we’ll get to that.)
B. Joker’s helicopter goes down anyway, though, because helicopters be going down like CRAZY in this movie. Obviously getting into a helicopter in any movie is a seriously risky proposition, but it seemed particularly egregious here. Were there three? I want to think there were three.
C. Joker . . . does he push Harley out of the helicopter to save her? It kind of looked like that’s what he did, but then he seems upset about it, so . . . maybe she fell? I feel like I should be more sure about this plot point. Regardless, she lands on a handy roof, and he supposedly dies when the helicopter goes down, except that he doesn’t because OF COURSE HE DOESN’T. It’s so obvious that he survives that I actually wished they showed it, because if his return at the end was supposed to in any way be a surprise . . . nope. Not having it.
More importantly, though, this is the last we see of the Joker until the end of the movie, which means he is extraneous in the extreme. The flashbacks we’ve been seeing between these two (one of which I’m not terribly convinced was necessary, at least, not for this particular cut) have painted the typically unhealthy relationship that Mister Jay and Harley have, so I assumed that when push came to shove, Joker was going to betray her somehow. Like, maybe he’d throw her out of the helicopter because it needed less weight, or maybe he’d try to kill her new buddy Deadshot or something. Similarly, I assumed Harley was going to eventually defy him or change or grow in some way . . . and yet, nada, nothing.
This frustrates me on a couple levels. It’s not solely because I generally enjoy Harley more when she has a solid feminist arc (although that’s definitely a part of it). It’s also that there’s just no shape to Joker and Harley’s story, no arc, no nothing. We spend way too much time on this guy for someone who barely impacts the plot. Even Harley getting pushed out of the helicopter and thus being stranded from her team has no meaningful impact. She’s on her own for roughly five minutes, and then the team quickly comes across her, and that’s that.
Moving on. Amanda Waller goes down in her own helicopter (I’m telling you, man, helicopters are DOOMED in this movie) and is captured by Enchantress. The Suicide Squad, meanwhile, is shocked to hear the truth of who they’re up against, and look, I know there’s such a thing as dramatic irony and all, but that’s just not flying today. The characters on screen are so disgusted and angry with Flag that they walk off the job for a drink, even good guy Katana, but all I’m thinking in the theater is “yeah, and?” Because I’ve known all this shit for over an hour. If the movie was going for some kind of tense reveal . . . boy, did they miss the mark.
Then, of course, we get to the bar, and let me tell you: nothing good happens here.
For starters, that funny bit from the trailer where everyone but Diablo asks for alcohol? Not in the movie. GRRRR. ARGGGH.
More importantly, though . . . what do you call a problem like Diablo?
It turns out that Diablo has a huge temper and accidentally murdered his wife and kids when he got pissed off about something. This is easily the darkest scene in the whole movie, and it’s really the only one that makes me start questioning tone. I sort of get what it’s doing here, like, I see the (slightly forced) connection between him and Harley, who berates Diablo for trying to have a normal life, even though it’s later revealed that she dreams of boring domestic bliss with the Joker too.
Here’s where I start having problems:
A. Learning this brutally dark history ten minutes before The Big Showdown means that I know without a shadow of a doubt that you’re planning to kill Diablo in some big redemptive death.
B. Despite Jay Hernandez’s solid acting, the redemptive death doesn’t work for me because we’re essentially talking domestic violence that ends in multiple homicide; the only difference here is that the family weren’t beaten or shot but set on fire. Let me repeat: this is a dude who lost his temper, killed his whole family, and now feels really bad about it. Gee, guy, let me get you a hankie; I feel super awful for your loss.
Now, it’s true that Suicide Squad is made up of a group of supervillains, and it’d be more than a little silly if they were all secretly noble or something. I mean, they can’t all be Deadshot, I know. It absolutely makes sense that we have some truly awful people in here.
But–and this is critical–if you want me to feel sorry for someone who did something so unspeakably awful (and let’s be honest: you’ve already got an uphill battle with this particular blogger when you’re talking domestic violence), then you need to start that redemption shit way earlier, like, you can’t just tell me a dude did something absolutely horrific, then have him kick the bucket while saving someone’s life in the next scene and say, “See? REDEMPTION! He wasn’t so bad after all!” I’m a very firm believer that the last act you do in life is not the only act you do that matters, and I needed a lot more time seeing Diablo trying to achieve redemption before I gave a shit about this guy. (And no, sitting on the sidelines not using his powers does not count as redemption. That counts as being useless and mopey.)
Anyway, let’s continue and end this thing, shall we? Flag enters the bar, and eventually they all decide to go on with the mission for . . . Reasons. I forget them now. Killer Croc separates for strategy purposes, while the others sneak in together. Enchantress, sensing them near, bewitches the team with visions of their biggest fantasies: Harley plays domestic with the Joker, Deadshot kills Batman so he can be with his daughter, Diablo’s family isn’t dead, etc. Christ knows what the others dream about since we don’t get to see Captain Boomerang or Katana’s visions, an especially frustrating missed opportunity, particularly in Katana’s case.
Only Diablo can break the enchantment, that magical redemptive bastard. He levels up and fights the shit out of Enchantress’s Boring Brother, and eventually they both die. Before his noble sacrifice, though, Diablo tells the others, “I lost one family. I’m not going to lose another.”
If I was a less well-behaved audience member, I would have pointed at the screen, cackled madly, and loudly asked, “What the fuck?” I’m an impeccably behaved audience member, however, so I settled for subtly throwing up my hands and merely mouthing, “What the fuck?”
Cause seriously. For starters, Diablo? You didn’t lose shit. Your dead wife and kids aren’t a pair of car keys, or a few people who died tragically because Life Happens sometimes. You murdered your family. Let’s all be clear on that.
More importantly, though, what the HELL do you even mean, another family? Are you seriously standing there with a straight face telling me that the Suicide Squad after, what, a few hours of kinda working together with exactly one pathetic and short-lived bonding scene . . . are you actually telling me that the Suicide Squad is your family? Excuse me while I BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
This is the most bullshit line ever. It is the King of Bullshit lines. I will someday make a list of the most unbelievable lines anyone ever expected me to take seriously in a movie, and if this isn’t at the top of the list, it will absolutely be in the top three. Jesus Christ, this is dumb.
So, Diablo dies. Enchantress seems to have the upper hand for a while, but Harley tricks her and Enchantress dies too. June seems to be dead for a hot second but of course is still alive. Amanda Waller promptly throws everyone back in jail, although most have special privileges, like Deadshot gets to help his daughter with geometry and such. (The daughter, whose name I did not catch, figures out the problem using assassin logic. I like her. She can come back.) For some reason, Captain Boomerang doesn’t get any kind of good stuff and just ends up screaming in his cell, if I remember correctly. I can’t remember him specifically betraying the team or Waller in any important way, so I’m really not sure why, although it’s definitely possible that I missed or have forgotten something.
And that’s just about the end.
Rick Flag: “This is the deal: You disobey me, you die. You try to escape, you die. You irritate or vex me, and guess what? You die.”
Harley Quinn: “I’m known for being quite vexing.”
Harley Quinn: “Harley Quinn, nice to meet ya! Love your perfume. What is that, the stench of death?”
Harley Quinn: “Huh? What was that? I should kill everyone and escape? Sorry. The voices. I’m kidding! That’s not what they really said.”
Floyd Lawton: “Stay evil, doll face.”
Griggs: “Ames, If this man shoots me, I want you to kill him and I want you to go clear my browser history.”
Floyd Lawton: “You might want to work on your team motivation thing.”
Harley Quinn: “Are you the devil?”
Amanda Waller: “Maybe.”
Boy, its a hot mess, like a gigantic inferno of a mess. On the plus side, despite it’s weird triple beginnings, seriously muddled middle, and just generally uneven structure, I found it much more fun to watch than the last two DC movies, maybe because the bad guys working as good guys worked better for me than the good guys totally acting like villains? I genuinely enjoyed some of the characters, and a lot of the flashy trappings worked well for me. But the story’s structure is just awful. More than half of the characters are ridiculously underused or underdeveloped. The Joker is unnecessary. The villain’s endgame needs work, and Diablo is a serious issue for me.
Believe it or not, I actually do want to see a sequel to this movie. I just want to pick and choose the next writer and director. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
. . . C+? (I mean, I know it should be absolutely nothing higher than a C for all of its flaws, but watchability is important, and the fact that it wasn’t a miserable slog of a movie is a significant factor to me.)
Sometimes, you need the bad guys to get shit done.
Also, maybe we shouldn’t shoot for the absolute Worst of the Worst when it comes to picking bad guys, Waller. Magical and malicious immortal spirits who possess human bodies, for instance . . . let’s just leave them out, okay? Try for Middle of the Worst instead.
Also, NEVER GET IN A HELICOPTER.
5 thoughts on ““We’re Bad Guys. It’s What We Do.””
Best review/recap ever! I agreed with it all and you’ve managed to put into words all the things I felt.
“Let me repeat: this is a dude who lost his temper, killed his whole family, and now feels really bad about it. Gee, guy, let me get you a hankie; I feel super awful for your loss.”
I’m not exactly disagreeing – but personally, I would think how sympathetic his backstory is would largely depend on how much control he had over his powers, and whether he lit that fire deliberately or by accident. These sorts of superpowers often get out of control when the character gets upset, after all. I dunno whether or not that was the case here, because I haven’t seen the movie and have no plans to change that anytime soon.
OTOH, if he had no control over his powers in the first place and would start fires whenever he got the slightest bit upset, then it sounds like he was pretty careless to be living with other people at all, so that would make it less sympathetic again.
I think that might be what they were going for, but it’s not quite the impression I got. Like, I don’t think it was necessarily straight-up murder with forethought and intent . . . but it also didn’t come across to me as a guy who was just got angry and was suddenly, inexplicably, setting things on fire without realizing what or how he’d done it. If we’re taking the pyrokinesis out of the equation, I would probably equate it to one of two situations: a guy that become so angry with his wife for speaking out of turn that he hit her and hit her until he realized she was dead, or–slightly more charitably–punching her once hard across the face, and when she fell back, she landed badly and died. So, an accident, of sorts, but not without choice.
Possibly a second viewing would leave me with a different impression, but those were my initial instincts.
I saw a few clips from Birds Of Prey on Youtube, and liked them so much I ended up watching this just to get the background for the character – or well, I also wanted to watch something mediocre enough that I could play on my phone during the movie without feeling bad about it. This fit the bill and then some!
I get why those incels were complaining about how the women in BoP weren’t sexy enough. Enchantress’s and Harley’s (but not Katana’s, surprisingly) costuming and framing in THIS movie was so Male Gaze-y, Michael Bay must’ve been taking notes. Even Harley’s prison clothes were designed to be Oh So Sexy, and the camera lingers on her body like it’s a slab of meat in a fast-food commercial. Comparatively, the women in Birds Of Prey might as well have wearing baggy nun outfits made out of burlap sacks.
I was one of those people who found the soundtrack to be trying too hard – it kinda felt like they saw the praise and sales for the Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtrack, and wanted a piece of that pie. I actually like a number of those songs independently, but when we’re 20 minutes into the movie and it’s already gone through about a dozen different hit songs, it started to feel like someone was skipping around on a radio.
Maybe everything I’d heard about Jared Leto’s behaviour was just influencing my reaction, but not a fan of his Joker, writing or performance. And yeah, you’re correct – we waste so much time on this asshole for no reason. Apparently, they were going to do a story about Harley breaking away from her abusive boyfriend, but this was cut to give them a more straightforward romantic slant. I mean he still tortures her into insanity and manipulates her into jumping into a vat of chemicals, but mostly the focus is on him trying to rescue her.
Okay, having seen the movie, I agree with your assessment about Diablo’s family. On the one hand, he does say he’d lose control when he got angry… But from the way he describes it, the way the other characters react to his story, and his displays of his power through the rest of the movie, I get the sense this was less his powers being literally out of his control, and more like guys who say they can’t control their temper.
I was kind of amused by how poorly thought through Waller’s whole plan was. The fact that a member of the Squad escapes immediately and then the rest of the team’s first mission is rescuing Waller from her is like something out’ve a parody. And if the point is to blame everything on the crooks if anything goes wrong, what’s the point in having dozens of soldiers following them around? That won’t look a bit suspicious if anyone catches wind of this? None of these guys will possibly blab to anyone?
BTW, I highly recommend Jenny Nicholson’s low-budget sketch mocking Waller’s pitch.