Suicide Squad

You’ve probably noticed that Hollywood is enamored of comic book movies these days.  Well, they sell, especially with the younger audiences, who are more inclined to go to movie theaters, anyway.  Of course the makers of the film are hoping their new offering becomes “a thing,” that elusive cultural success known as “going viral,” like “Pokemon Go.”  Or, in the movie world, the next “Frozen.”

Well, just for the record, “Suicide Squad” is not going to be the next “Frozen.”  (You heard it here first.)  For one thing, it’s not designed for all ages, but is rated PG-13, and prides itself on being “edgy” or “campy” as well as caricatured.  But there is a plot.

It seems that the U.S. government is worried about security (surprise, surprise).  In a world where anybody can become a terrorist, the think tankers start to worry about superheroes going rogue, like Batman or Superman.  Who would stop them?

Enter Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), a covert ops organizer who assures the Joint Chiefs that she can put together a bunch of bad hombres with superpowers, and they can be our protection against extreme elements of evil.  And who knew that a just at that moment a new villain would arise?

OK, so she’s a witch, kind of, but somehow connected to some previously-extinct animus religion, vaguely like an Aztec goddess (never mind about trying to identify her origins too precisely).  She’s presenting quite a challenge to the flat-footed authorities with conventional weapons, who can’t stand up to her voodoo/supernatural powers, including turning converts into zombie-like foot soldiers.

So our motley crew of outlaws, renegades, and social misfits are now unleashed to save humanity, which is ironic, because so far they’ve been incarcerated, tortured, beaten, and locked away by the same hapless humanity, and the irony is not lost on our anti-heroes.  But that’s OK, they were spoiling for a good fight, anyway, and the cartoon/video game-style violence is then pretty much nonstop, with a brief respite in a deserted upscale bar. (Well, we wouldn’t be bad dudes if we didn’t help ourselves.)

Will Smith’s screen presence stands out, as Deadshot (he can’t miss), and so does Margot Robbie, as Harley Quinn, who poses, sasses, and winks her way to being the naughty girl who’s great in a brawl.  As usual, Jared Leto (as The Joker) steals any scene he’s in.  But it all revels a little too much in being “over the top” and sometimes forgets to invite its viewers into the story.  Lots of cartoonish violence, but little that’s memorably impactful.

Questions for Discussion: 

1)                   Should the government use convicted felons in order to help catch other convicted felons?

2)                  Are you confident in our government’s preparations for the unexpected terrorist attack?

3)                  What superpower would you like to have?

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association