Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad
Written and directed by David Ayer

I’m trying a thing where I review movies which *aren’t* on the 500 list, because apparently people are reading these reviews and enjoying seeing my perspective, so… the first one you get is Suicide Squad. Some minor spoilers ahead…

This movie came out over halfway through a year stuffed with big superhero movies. We’ve already had MCU’s civil war, an epic X Men film and Batman Vs Superman. A lot of people I’ve spoken with have a certain amount of boredom with superhero films, it’s just been so thick and fast. I, on the other hand, feel like this is my time. I’ve been reading and loving superhero stories since I was given a second hand Xmen comic as a kid. As a teenager my friends and I would go and hang out at the comic shop and stand around and read comics without buying them (teenagers, am I right?) To me, the sudden popularity of superhero films makes it feel like people are making movies just for me, and I like that.

I’ve seen Suicide Squad twice: first on opening night at the Heroes for Sale special screening at Sylvia Park and second time at a sold out screening full of children and young teens at St Lukes. I enjoyed the movie both times. I am unsure why children under 10 were at the screening but hey, I’m not their parent.

I know there’s been a tonne of writing online about the portrayal of Harley Quinn in this film. Here’s my perspective. She one hundred per cent doesn’t need to be wearing tiny sparkly panties as her costume. Booty shorts would have been better, long shorts, her signature two colour leggings, all of these would have been better. For sure, especially because none of the male characters get the similar skimpy/fan servicey treatment. That shit needs to stop. And I’m not at all a fan of her using the word ‘pussy’ to tell guys they’re being cowardly. There’s a lot of baggage to that word. BUT having said that, I was super happy with the way Harley is shown in this film. For one, her relationship with the Joker isn’t abusive at all. He is as devoted to her, as obsessed with her as she is to him. She chooses to be with him, she chooses to jump into the acid and become like him. She also isn’t ever shown to be afraid of him, even when he’s about to torture him she just says “I can take it.” That’s huge. That’s a huge change to their relationship from almost all the source material and to me, that’s a brilliant change. If Harley’s going to be on the big screen I’mover the moon if it’s not a crappy 50 Shades style woman-with-no-agency situation.

Her fight scenes are awesome, she’s repeatedly shown to be capable and cool, and Margot Robbie plays her as charming and warm. There’s some problematic sexualisation, as I said, and some weird ‘crazy is kooky and cute’ stuff, but to be fair that’s pretty normal for Harley as a character.

I like the way the backstories are handled, I love seeing Bat-fleck show up a few times and I jumped up and clapped seeing Ezra Miller’s Flash speak. I like the way Deadshot’s tech worked, I liked the colour saturation and the soundtrack was off the hook – great theme matching to featured characters, and the action sequences all had real stakes, made sense to watch and were fun and interesting to watch.

The story is relatively small, especially compared to the other superhero movies released this year. It’s pretty much assemble the squad and have them run a single mission which goes a bit wrong. The villain is acting directly because of events in the movie/activation of the squad and there’s a cool Hell Boy 2 kind of aesthetic happening there. It’s a solid choice for an ensemble cast where every character will be relatively new to the majority of the audience.

I have some issues with Jared Leto’s Joker – not the least because of I have some issues with Jared Leto. But setting that aside, I didn’t think he had enough weight to him. As an actor Leto doesn’t have the gravitas that I want for the Joker. They didn’t put him next to Batman and I think that’s a good thing because I feel like Batman as played by Affleck could knock him over with a flick of a finger. He wasn’t scary… he wasn’t even particularly unhinged. At every point he had a plan which made sense and you could understand. I’m glad he wasn’t in more of the film just a background character, because if he’s going to go up against Batman I think he needs recasting.

Does it make me love the people? Harley, yep. Amanda Waller: hell yes! Slaaaaaay. Killer Croc, yeah.

I wasn’t expecting to love Diablo or Deadshot but the film gives them depth and humanity. I loved them both. Deadshot as a somewhat grudging leader of the team and his instant loyalty to the team is lovely. Diablo is haunted, a man who knows the extent of the power he has and is unwilling to weild it, like Luke in Return of the Jedi, sorta. Plus, the special effects when he does let loose are so freaking cool. Love.

Bechdel test: Yes, over and over. Harley talks directly to Amanda Waller and Katana (she talks to Enchantress as well but I think mostly about the Joker), Amanda Waller talks to June and Enchantress. Yeah, we’re so good. And in terms of representation how great is it to have a super team with three women on it (counting Waller on the side of the ‘good’ guys), and how cool is it to see a woman be the big bad in a superhero film? and how great to have a superhero team with a black guy AND a Latino guy AND an Asian woman AND a native American guy AND another black guy as a massive bad ass crocodile with good self esteem. The people with the most power in this movie are Waller (woman of colour), Deadshot (man of colour) and Enchantress (woman). Good times.

Best line:

Diablo: Don’t touch me.
Deadshot: I’m touching you! I’m touching you! Whatcha gonna do?
Diablo: You wanna see something? YOU WANNA SEE SOMETHING?
Deadshot: YEAH!
[Diablo goes berserk and shoots fire everywhere]
Deadshot: …I was trying to get you there. No hard feelings, right? We good?

Deadshot: Here’s to honor among thieves.
Katana: I’m not a thief.
Deadshot: Oh, she’s not a thief.

State of Mind: To me the backlash against DC movies is out of proportion to the films. Sure, they’re flawed but so are Marvel films. I am especially suspect of people slamming this film which is one of the first to have outstanding representation for gender and race. That aside, I find this movie genuinely fun and engaging, it flashes by with no dragging moments, but at the same time has room to breathe and down time which makes sense. I’m tempted to go and see it again, to be honest.

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One thought on “Suicide Squad (2016)

  1. Totally agree! Great review, spot on. TBH, I think that Margot Robbie made the film what it was – she was such an excellent character. Yes, the skimpy clothing didn’t hurt, but it was also unnecessary. No idea why there is such vitriol around the film online. I enjoyed it!

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