Suicide Squad (2016)

*. Suicide Squad was widely hailed (if that’s the word) as one of the worst movies of 2016. It’s actually not that bad. It’s not good, and it’s very disappointing given all it had going for it, but it’s nowhere near the pinnacle of badness it was made out to be.
*. It’s not easy saying what exactly went wrong. There’s nothing original about it at all, but these superhero movies are nothing if not formulaic. So when we get a quick series of potted bios to introduce us to Task Force X, highlighting all of their superpowers (and human weaknesses), followed by a mission that’s ripped straight out of Escape from New York (I assume that downed jet in the street was an homage), and a finale that plays like the end of Ghostbusters, with a ring of trash in the sky that might be from the end of The Avengers or Doctor Strange, with a demon-haunted lover going all goddess-on-the-mountaintop (is that Sigourney Weaver, or Famke Janssen?) . . . well, who cares? You didn’t come here expecting to be surprised, did you?
*. The leads are also pretty good. Will Smith is more than comfortable as Deadshot and Margot Robbie steals every scene she’s in as Harley Quinn, despite it not being a particularly well written part. They really hit a home run with her. Also decent is Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag.
*. Among the supporting characters, however, there are some real stinkers. I applaud Jared Leto for trying to do something different with the Joker, but he’s just awful. How can he be so dull? And Waller (Viola Davis) . . . what were they thinking? Are we supposed to like her? Respect her? What? I guess she’s playing the Nick Fury role here, but Fury is fun and underneath the hard-ass exterior he’s one of the good guys. Waller is evil, isn’t she? Or is she supposed to be a role model as a fully empowered black woman in authority, capable of being as cold-hearted as any male CEO? That is, any male CEO who kills his own employees because what they know might make their CEO look bad.
*. Why is the end such a major bummer? I don’t get it. The team seem to me to have gotten royally screwed. It’s weird to end a popcorn movie on such a down note. Aside, of course, from the obligatory bit at the end to open the door for a sequel. But that was disappointing too, since the Joker and Harley have absolutely zero chemistry. I wanted to see her making out with Deadshot.
*. I can understand people hating Suicide Squad. There’s a lot of noise, but not much new or interesting. It’s poorly written. There are some epic fails in the character department. But the superhero genre doesn’t have very high standards. I don’t think this was a disaster so much as it was par for the course.

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