Superhero movies used to be about people (Batman), or mutants (X-Men), or aliens (Superman) with extraordinary powers who try to do some good in the world. But now we’re in an anti-superhero culture. Formerly all-American superheroes now beat up on each other. The new breed of superhero (Deadpool, the Suicide Squad) flout authority, destroy stuff and indiscriminately kill people — but by the end of the movie show their true colors, helping to defeat real evil. Psychoanalysts should be having all sorts of fun pointing out how this behavior mirrors our current society. And what’s next? Superevilpeople whom we are supposed to like as they destroy the world we know? I’d settle for fewer superhero movies.
David Ayer’s film is a mess. The cheats begin early, during the long character introductions. Deadshot (Will Smith) is supposed to be a superhero? He’s a hit man with impeccable aim; hardly a superhero. Harley Quinn (the delectable Margot Robbie) is supposed to be an evil adventuress? Her only sin is to have fallen (somehow) for the Joker (Jared Leto), who mistreats her and disengages her conscience. The movie is like half of The Dirty Dozen, the World War II classic with Lee Marvin. But instead of twelve convicts being rescued from death sentences and life imprisonment, we’ve got half a dozen alleged superheroes thrown together — without any training, which was one of the great aspects of The Dirty Dozen — to go into Midway City and face, well, something evil. The movie’s exposition is quite hazy on that, even at critical junctures. And, of course, to keep up the alleged suspense, they (and, thus, the audience) are only spoon-fed critical plot points in various flashbacks as the climax looms closer.
The film is loud, and noisy, and full of visual activity. Bolts of lightning and streaming stuff (I don’t know how else to describe it when the alien guy thrusts matter of some sort toward the Suicide Squad) is plentiful. Loud music and explosions and gunfire are excessive. For those who are into this kind of thing, enjoy it. It just gave me a headache. I love The Dirty Dozen; there, the crazy plot actually makes a lunatic kind of sense. But this is just stupid from the get-go, and at times extremely distasteful. “I’m not judging” says the sergeant in charge when his superior (Viola Davis) calmly shoots four or five F.B.I. guys who didn’t have clearance to be where they were, even though they were rescuing her. Well I am judging, and I was appalled. On the one hand, life doesn’t mean anything in this type of movie, for anybody who isn’t listed in the main credits. And yet we are supposed to care for everyone who is in those main credits. I’m sick and tired of the double standard, the idea that it’s just a movie so let’s kill almost everybody. It’s ridiculous.
I would, therefore, be giving this movie a very low score because of its moral turpitude, and its bombastic presentation — except for one thing. Margot Robbie. She is great. Other actors and characters have their moments but she steals every scene she’s in, and rather easily. I genuinely cared about her character, and I found her amazingly appealing. I hope Harley Quinn gets her own spin-off, or origin story, or something. But Suicide Squad can go sink in a swamp. My rating: ☆ 1/2. 15 August 2016.