I mentioned Suicide Squad in my prior blog, and I did indeed see it in the theatre the other day. So what did I think? Well, most of the folks critical of the movie are right, it is badly flawed— and almost all those flaws can be attributed to the execrable editing. Amazingly, though, somehow the film’s good points managed to just outweigh the horrible damage done to it in post-production. Enough to make one weep at what may have been, and actually justify a “director’s cut” Blu-ray release. So, rather than harp on the film’s many faults (and they are legion) I thought I’d give a list of what the movie actually got right:
10) The casting is pretty superb in my book. Even Will Smith’s typical glib demeanor syncs well with portraying a complete sociopath. And the chemistry between him and Margot Robbie make the film.
9) The acting also shines, once you take into account the limits of the choppy editing and the fact that this is an ensemble action movie where we aren’t going terribly deep into these characters.
8) The bad guys are actually bad guys. All of them. It seems that every time a Hollywood movie gets its mind on focusing on a group of criminals doing something there is a near-irresistible temptation to make our hero(s) wrongly convicted, or justified in their criminal acts in some way. But there’s no question here that the characters belong in prison. Only one character has a redemption arc over their criminal past, and their crimes are so irredeemable that this only elicits some sympathy.
7) The movie isn’t as nihilist as it appears on first glance. Suicide Squad may deal with characters without a moral center, but they actually are aware of that, and suffer for that lack. You see this with every family/romantic connection shown for the members of the Squad. (It’s arguably the point of the bar scene.)
6) The film is aware that getting this group together is a bad idea. But this isn’t a plot hole. It actually is the plot.
5) The Joker. This movie needed a different take on him, and the one they chose both fits in this universe, and is distinct enough from every other portrayal to stand on its own. Also, it was a wise decision IMHO to use him sparingly, because he can easily chew up a whole movie by himself. They needed him because Harley, but only for that. Any more would be a distraction from the main plot.
4) The soundtrack. Sure, they may have been trying to riff on the Guardians of the Galaxy’s MO. I don’t care. This would be a case of a DC film learning the right lesson from Marvel.
3) The one-liners. “I love your perfume! What is it, the stench of death?”
2) The tone. This is another case of learning the right lesson from Marvel. Getting the tone right for a superhero movie is a delicate process, it’s very easy to fall into the two extremes: either take everything way serious and fall into gritty angst and nihilism, or descend into self-mockery and keep winking at the camera to show the audience that you’re not falling for it. Somehow, this movie avoided that trap. It knew the place of humor, and it wasn’t at the expense of the characters or their stories. (Except Captain Boomerang, but we’re supposed to think he’s an asshole.)
1) It showed that you can make a superhero movie diverse without an accompanying internet meltdown. And given that it looks like this movie’s making money, there’s a good chance we’ll see more of this type of casting. . . and maybe a little less of the online angst.