August 9, 2016
Suicide Squad, the latest Hollywood superhero blockbuster, picks up where Batman v. Superman left off. Superman is gone, and the US government is left asking themselves: “What happens when another Superman visits Earth, who perhaps does not share our values of freedom and liberty?” (To which John Kerry presumably replies, “We will contain and crush them like we did with ISIS!”)
And hence, the government puts together a special team of meta-humans for that very purpose. The only caveat being that the team is made up of convicted criminals, all of whom were previously locked up in maximum security prison.
When asked about the perils of assembling such a morally unimpressive entourage to protect the nation, the head of the government program replies, “In a world with superman and monsters, this is the only way to protect America”.
This is exactly right. In fact, the antiheroes of Suicide Squad parallel the nuclear arms build-up of the Cold War.
When Ronald Reagan took office in 1980, he accelerated the effort to modernize and expand America’s nuclear arms program. Yes, nuclear weapons were scary, but our enemies were quickly building newer and better ones. Our build-up was in direct response to the rapid growth of the Soviet military and its threat to our national security.
As the film said, “In a world with
superman and monsters Soviet nuclear capabilities, this is the only way to protect America”. And it worked! (For proof, see USSR in 2016.)
The Suicide Squad members’ dark backgrounds actually humanize them. Where superheroes have traditionally abided by illogical arguments against killing the bad guys, Suicide Squad actually revel in pulling apart their enemies like string cheese.
This is what you’d expect to see from a coterie of super-humans.
Individuals who, through the struggle for a moral good (saving the world), bend the rules and don’t go out of their way to idiotically subdue all their enemies. That’s right Hollywood, sometimes you have to Jack Bauer a few terrorists to save lives. And judging by the film’s massive box office numbers, this theme appears to be resonating with a lot of Americans.
The plot is your run-of-the-mill comic book cliché that leaves much to be desired. There’s an all-powerful, vindictive villain with aspirations of world domination (nope, it’s not a satirized Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump rally), wreaking havoc in a major metropolitan area.
Naturally, our antiheroes are called to the rescue! We’ve only seen this in about a few hundred other movies already.
But not to worry. The characters themselves and the chemistry between them more than make up for the stale, mundane plot.
There’s Deadshot (Will Smith). A hitman with superhuman accuracy, who also happens to be a loving father. His only requested compensation in joining Suicide Squad is full custody of his daughter and money for her education.
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is The Joker’s better half. She’s a sexy, seductive sociopath, and dangerously lethal when unrestrained. (Think everything the new Ghostbusters cast isn’t.)
Despite appearing to be bereft of any moral decency, these characters all mesh perfectly and unite to save the world.
Character dialogue is exceedingly entertaining throughout the film’s run-time, as the humor is very well timed and perfectly delivered. Character chemistry is a true high-point of the movie.
In the film’s climax, the havoc-wreaking antagonist offers Suicide Squad an alliance, giving them a chance to “rule the world together” Crossing the divide between a costumed convict and morally guided hero, Deadshot turns down the offer, responding, “You are evil!”
In the end, Suicide Squad is a highly enjoyable film. Despite falling short in storytelling, it does an excellent job of meshing together fun, entertaining characters from an eclectic background. The characters are superbly cast, each begging for their own separate film.
On top of it all, the film’s soundtrack is a delight to the ears, opening with The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun,” and ending the ride on a high note with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”