Monday, August 15, 2016
Can Anybody Tell Me Why I Liked Suicide Squad?
"Suicide Squad" was released last Friday to reviews that ranged from "OH MY GOD, MY FACE IS ON FIRE" to "OH MY GOD, THE WORLD IS ON FIRE". This coming just six months after Warner Bros farted out "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Possibly the Worst Movie of the Decade". It is not good for anybody at Warner Bros or the industry. "Man of Steel" was Strike One, "BvS" is Strike Two. In order to save this ballgame, DC needed a grand slam. Instead they got "Suicide Squad", a movie everybody hates. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies - fuck you, 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you ever needed evidence that you should have just stayed home and finished "Stranger Things", this was it.
I'm not going to mince words. Why should I? People are going to be a lot meaner than me when it comes to this movie. "Suicide Squad" is a mess. It was clearly torn to pieces in editing. Director David Ayer seems to have had a gritty Tarantino-esque superhero movie by way of crime thriller in mind. But the studio wanted a new "Guardians of the Galaxy"... oh wait no, they wanted a new "Deadpool". The results are clear. The movie is half flashback. Then those flashbacks are followed by exposition that explain the flashbacks. There's a desperation in the editing as the soundtrack goes from one Top 100 Hit of Yesteryear to another in a truly sad attempt to inject fun in the proceedings. And Jared Leto's Joker is shit.
So can anybody explain to me why I liked "Suicide Squad"? Could you explain why I'm even going to give this movie a recommendation?
So before we get started, I'll try to discredit myself as much as possible. I don't want anybody going to a movie that is by all accounts other than my own a festering train wreck Holocaust. Here's a list of clear biases that might make me the wrong person to listen to:
1) I'm a DC fanboy. I suppose technically. I've definitely read more than my fair share of Batman graphic novels. I've spent decades watching DC cartoons. "Suicide Squad" is the first film to feature obscure DC characters. I mean, Deadshot? That's pretty deep in the roster. Killer Croc? A D-list Batman* villain at best. Marvel fans have had all their weird random characters show up like Rocky Racoon and whatever boring character Olivia Munn was playing in "X-Men: Apocalypse". Now I get my Harley Quinn movie.
2) I'm on record saying "Margot Robbie is so insanely pretty that my powers of critical analysis completely fail me".
3) This is the like the third post about how much I hate "BvS". I don't let go of a grudge easily. Just ask me about "Eureka Seven Ao" sometime. Maybe this movie is just enough of a tonal shift away from what came before that it wins by default. If it means letting go of 'Visionary Director' Zack Snyder's 'visionary vision' of gray on gray misery I'd take anything.
4) I also liked "Amazing Spider-Man 2" so I just suck as a critic. And I liked "X-Men: Apocalypse". And I love "Batman & Robin"! But last year's "Fant4stic" was just shit, so maybe there's hope for me yet. Hey, I like camp. Sue me.
5) Contrarian articles get more pageviews and I'm a whore. Maybe. I also posted this a week too late for it to matter and on a blog that nobody reads, so this argument might not hold much water.
Anyway, with those damning facts behind me, I will now attempt to defend the indefensible. "Suicide Squad" is... a good movie. I even recommend you go see it. Especially now that it's already doomed and Warner Bros' house of cards they've built around the epic vision of 'visionary director' Zack Snyder is going up in shit.
The critics are certainly fiddling merrily while DC burns, which explains why this mediocre at worst movie got such bad reviews. There's so much bad press around "Suicide Squad"'s troubled production and the desperate need Warner Bros has around it to save their asses, that even the slightest glimpse of failure is enough to entice the critics into a feeding frenzy beyond words. They devoured "John Carter" without realizing what an imaginative and special movie that was, they can certainly overplay their mild disappointment about "Suicide Squad" into melodramatic screams of agony. "Suicide Squad" has issues but no more than the far blander and completely boring "Age of Ultron", currently a 75% Fresh. That movie got a pass because Disney's future did not depend on it.
But enough reviewing the reviews. Onto the topic:
I meant everything I said about "Suicide Squad" being clearly made out of bits. Most of the flashback scenes come from what was originally intended to be a first act. A twist that is treated like a big reveal at the end of the movie is explained away rapidly in the intro, then explained about four more times. A few characters just show up randomly in the middle of the movie with no flashbacks or set-up. No surprise they are the more expandable members of this DC "Expandables" crew. All of this was a crude attempt to make the movie fast, and fun, and "Guardians of the Galaxy"-like.
That has largely worked. "Suicide Squad" is a fun movie. It has a likable cast of miscreants teaming up against a ridiculously hammy villain. They make quips and mock the idea of a superhero team-up. The Avengers take time out of their battles to rescue school children, these guys steal an outrageously expansive purse. Yeah, the movie has flaws, tons of them. But those flaws do not include a lack of entertainment, action, or overall comic book-y weirdness. We can all write articles about how the giant Ant-Man at the airport is the great climax of a decade comic book action on being translated on the big screen. But why do we also have to shit on Aztec Gods fighting a firemancer Los Angeles gang banger and his team of minor bad guys? Isn't that just as inexplicable and, dare I say it: fun?
A lot of critics will accuse "Suicide Squad" of trying too hard. This is definitely clear in the soundtrack, which is down right pathetic in its attempts to spice the movie up and give it bounce. But call it pathetic, at least the movie's heart is in the right place. "Suicide Squad" is a big awkward dog that doesn't realize it isn't a puppy anymore and knocks you over because its trying too hard to love you. This is a movie that tore itself inside-out three times and mutated into an abomination unrecognizable from its original form all just to please you. It wants love, that's all. And what kind of monster are you if you can't even appreciate the torturous mutilation it went through to make you happy?
And I was pleased by this freakish bastardization of cinema. Its jokes landed. Its characters were very likable. The movie even had a strange brush with actually having a heart, like it respected its characters and their journey. The plotting might be redundant and even incoherent, but "Suicide Squad" comes away with a clear idea of what it wants to be. It's a madcap escapade of nonsense and humor, but also a nice B-movie antihero team-up story.
It also helps that Will Smith's Deadshot is just a better person than either this universe's Batman or Superman. This is a man who murders people for money. But he has moral limits, and an honest love for his daughter. "Man of Steel" Superman saves people because he's Superman, the plot demands it. The fascist nightmare that 'Visionary Director' Zack Snyder is fapping over would never save a single kitten in tree if it wasn't wrapped up into some navel gazing heroic mumbo jumbo. Harley Quinn saves the world not because of overly-complicated personal statements or Christ-analogies, it's the simply heroic thing to do. She's not gonna get praised for it, she won't get the girl, her space dad won't show up to give forty speeches about the nature of hero. She just does it. The Suicide Squad team is put through adversity, learns to work together, and comes out of the tale better people.
"Suicide Squad". is not sophisticated story telling. But unless you're Christopher Nolan, superhero movies don't have to be sophisticated. Make them fun and a little bit innocent and charming. That's all I want. Have Deadshot wreck an army of Cthulhu zombies in style, then throw in a one-liner. Audience cheers, we all have fun. Bring them together and have them fighting a campy witch and her plot to blow up the Earth with a giant laser. I'm fine with that. Sure this sounds like a shallow Marvel movie, but is that really such a bad thing?
Hey, along with a being a movie that follows a nice pace, "Suicide Squad" brings out the best of its cast. I never would have believed that Jai Courtney of all people could put out a good performance, but here you go. Even as a desperate single man who would probably be unable to perform sexually in the sight of Margot Robbie nude out of hidden knowledge that I am far inadequate for the task and my mere touch would corrupt the perfection of the goddess-like being before that I have no business standing or even kneeling before... who has certain biases to like her, I'll say this is the first good Margot Robbie role. Yes, she is more than just a perfect face. Even the flopmaster of the 2010s himself Will Smith comes off good here.
Also Jared Leto's Joker is shit. No, I'm not going to defend every aspect of "Suicide Squad".
Why did I like "Suicide Squad"? Because I'm a biased fanboy dipshit that signed the petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes and pasted Margot Robbie's face over my Saber bodypillow. No, maybe it's that I come into movies hoping to find something I truly love, especially when this summer has been awful. We needed a great movie right now to get people back into the cinemas. "Suicide Squad" wasn't that great movie, probably, but it also wasn't Satan throat-fucking your grandma while shoving your favorite dog up his ass while reciting Donald Trump speeches.
I walked into a theater expecting an energetic couple of hours of superhero nonsense, and that's what I got. One guy next to me in the theater afterwards called up his buddy and raved "that was dope, yo". I agree. In one sentence he said more about the movie than I ever could in this entire overly-long review.
"Suicide Squad" was dope, yo. That's all the explanation I need.
* Since Batman is shoe-horned into "Suicide Squad", this is Batman Movie Batdown Week: Is Anybody Following This Gag Anymore?