Suicide Squad: DC Comics’ sadly unconvincing villains

Today, I will be signing off on one of the most exciting movies of this summer: Suicide Squad. I must say I longed for this DC Comics joint to come out. The ensemble casting and the enticing Comic-Con trailer were enough to convince me. Then, when I learnt it was going to open during the summer, I started to feel anxious about the final product. And I use the word product because it was clearly sold as a huge blockbuster. And there is nothing wrong with this designation. But as I quickly learned, the Suicide Squad was formed by sadly unconvincing villains. Please continue reading if you want to learn the reasons why they didn’t convince me.

A bad feeling from the get-go

Anyway, I went to see it apprehensively last friday night. And from the first few minutes, I could sense some major problems. Starting with the how music is used. I just don’t understand how no one noticed how poorly introduced the songs were. Though, the Suicide Squad track list is nice, it is quite unsettling when you go from a calm scene to a super-loud one in a second, while there is absolutely no reason behind this sudden change. And the music doesn’t really fit or bring something to the action depicted. And so, the lack of fluidity between each sequence is my first turn-off.

Then there is the general pace of the movie. The members of the future Suicide Squad are introduced in the first 15-20 minutes or so of the movie. And while it is efficiently done given how large the crew, I find it was poorly-executed. Clumsy and ineffective, it didn’t really give any useful insight into each character’s psyche or purpose.

Indeed, when presenting each member of the Squad, Agent Waller, interpreted by Viola Davis, quickly brushes each villain’s case. We only know their main ability and how they got arrested, and fairly easily for most, or how he surrendered in Diablo’s case. And for an action/superhero movie, the protagonists spend a lot of time contemplating more than actually being active. And it makes sense if we only take into consideration the part they are imprisoned – which is during the first 30-40 minutes of the movie. But even when they are finally released to accomplish their mission for Waller, they are not doing much fighting. Rather, they exchange some strong words with their handler, Rick Flag. Or they scheme to find a way to break free of the explosive microchip they have in their necks. But even that doesn’t amount to any action on their part. It is only when faced with the creatures made by Enchantress that they have actually have purpose and some fight scenes.

On a two-hour long movie, the absence of a strong and supported amount of action is quite noticeable.

Great casting ensemble, Feeble performances

One of the most anticipated character of Suicide Squad was the Joker. And rightfully so, since he was sold as one of the most epic character of the movie. But he is probably on screen for less than 20 minutes. This fact in itself is far from being reassuring. But despite his short on-screen presence, Jared Leto, who plays the villain, unfortunately doesn’t deliver on this role. It isn’t his most convincing performance. And even without Heath Ledger’s Joker in mind, it is hard to believe how feeble Leto’s version is.  His Joker falls short of charisma and mystic. He doesn’t even inspire fear or any other feeling to be honest. Leto solely relies on his facial expressions, gestures and diction for this part. The costume and make-up is well-done, but that is all there is to this character.

Since her noteworthy role on The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Margot Robbie has kept busy with high-grossing movies. So it is no surprise that we find her in this blockbuster. But we can’t help but notice the lingering sexism surrounding her character, Harley Quinn: from her very low-cut and over-sexualized outfits to the multiple close-up shots of her behind. Harley Quinn is usually known for wearing a harlequin costume, but somehow in this movie she is more of a sexy goth than an actual harlequin. Her nickname is a pun based on this theatrical clown character, her actual name – Dr Harleen Frances Quinzel – and the word Queen. But apparently, the filmmaker didn’t care for this part of the character. And on top of that, she doesn’t have this clownish aspect.

And apart from well-delivered lines and some not very realistic ass-kicking, there is not much we can take from Harley Quinn. Most of her time is spent passively waiting for her Puddin, aka the Joker, to rescue her so they can live happily ever after. And the vision she has while under Enchantress’ spell reinforces this aspect. Sweet talking, swinging moves, and her assets are what is most shown of her. She is more of a likeable lunatic and an enabler than a villain or superhero.Harley Quinn has been made to be nothing more than a pretty side-kick, funny at times but with no real substance. It is very disappointing from a character who has so much potential.

All of that to say that I regret that her character has been treated so simplistically and lightly by David Ayer, who wrote and directed the movie. And once again, Hollywood fails to depict a positive and strong female character, and excels in putting her down by over-sexualizing her looks. Unfortunately, it is a strong and long standing habit in the industry. One of the most remarkable victim of this sexism is actress Jessica Alba. She has played a lot of strong characters in her career, such as Special Agent Sartana Rivera in “Machete”, or Max Guevara in “Dark Angel”. But one can’t help but notice a constant in almost every movie she does: there is always a clear intention of putting her assets upfront, whether it be in scenes or in film poster is crucial, while there is no plausible justification behind it.

Most recently, Gal Gadot got the same treatment. We first got a glimpse of her as Wonder Woman in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. And without much surprise, her costume is a super low-cut leather dress, snatched in strategic areas to emphasize her thighs, bosom and legs. Moreover, she has what seems to be very comfortable leather high-knee boots. It is clearly a very practical outfit to fight. Let us not forget that long before her, Xena did wear pretty much the same outfit and she was a great warrior. So surely, it must be a good standard for every female superhero. While there are clearly not the same expectations regarding male superheroes. And the list is way broader by the way – Scarlet Johansson in “Avengers” or “Captain America”, etc.

Though the film has an interesting and talented ensemble cast, most actors fail to make an impact on the story and on the viewer. Will Smith’s Deadshot is one of those unsuccessful character. There is not much to say about him because he is insipid. And I actually feel like he has overdone this type of role before. And by the way, other characters such as Boomerang, Killer Croc, Spliknot, Katana and Diablo don’t appear enough on screen or have enough dialogues to spark any interest.

Maybe it is the fact that there are two many protagonists and very few opportunities for each to demonstrate their abilities. The large amount of characters distracts from the purpose of this squad. And in that context, it is hard to distinguish their individual worth, and a leader within the squad.

Speaking of leader, Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag lacks the power and natural charisma to lead this bunch of criminals. And while he executes Amanda Waller’s commands, he fails to demonstrate any leadership features. At one time, the squad even abandons him because he didn’t trust them with his secret and the real reason he embarked on this task force.

The film really suffers from a lack of deep and solid introspection and treatment of its protagonists.

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Random ridiculous facts about Suicide Squad

When I am bored by a movie, I tend to scrutinize each aspect of it. And that is how I ended up watching Suicide Squad after few minutes into it. If you take a close-up look at this movie, you will realize it doesn’t fall short of ridicule.

First, there are file folders and flight-cases with huge “Top Secret” stamps on them. This way of stating the obvious is aimed to reinforce the codes of the genre.

You can find it in most thriller and action movies. It is supposed to help the viewer to enter and connect with the world the movie depicts. It is the same as having slamming doors or strange silences in a horror or scary movie. Unfortunately, here this trick just is ridiculous. The viewer knows that this operation is ran by a governmental intelligence operator, so secrecy is key.

Then, I noticed the absurdly insane way Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress walks. I have no words to describe it. For those who have yet to see it, please take a second to observe these details. I actually had moments of uncontrollable nervous loughs every time she was on screen. I just don’t understand how – always – walking and moving around like a belly-dancer is helping her performance. What is it supposed to bring to her character? Before, I was sceptical about Cara Delevingne’s ability to act, so this certainly helped to clarify things for me.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is also Enchantress’ resuscitated brother, a character who was absolutely a waste of time to create, especially for the FX department of the movie. He has actually no actual purpose in the plot. The storyline could have stand without him.

On the other hand, the title “Suicide” only applies to Diablo in the Squad.  He is the one who scarifies his life to help blow-up Enchantress’ brother. A suicide than can be seen as a long-awaited end to the life of an already lost soul. Moreover, with the guilt accidentally killing his wife and kids, Diablo was a lost cause who wanted to end his life from the beginning. So he was the only one who had something to gain from associating with intelligence operative and creator of the Squad, Amanda Waller.

As for Amanda Waller, she is a very smart and experienced agent, especially with dangerous criminals. Her knowledge of these criminals’ life, assets and weaknesses help her decide their value to her very special task force.

And when she has been granted authorization to assemble this Squad, she knows she is playing with fire.  So it is just improbable to me that she was naïve enough to not foreseen the danger behind Dr. June Moone/ Enchantress’ existence.

On the other hand, the title “Suicide” only applies to Diablo in the Squad.  He is the one who scarifies his life to help blow-up Enchantress’ brother. A suicide than can be seen as a long-awaited end to the life of an already lost soul. Moreover, with the guilt accidentally killing his wife and kids, Diablo was a lost cause who wanted to end his life from the beginning. So he was the only one who had something to gain from associating with intelligence operative and creator of the Squad, Amanda Waller.

This type of nonsense makes me question the usefulness of this movie. And while these details are laughable, they are not part of some intentional funny aspects of the movie. Unlike Deadpool where the main character cultivates a strong sense of humour and strives off his misses and setbacks, Suicide Squad is based on a comical vibe.

In the end, Suicide Squad qualifies as a fail. The film is just all over the place and fails to impress from its plot to its actors and mise-en-scène. And I am ashamed to say that I have lost €10.90 on this nonsense.


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