TGD Flashback Friday: Kevin Considers Ritual Seppuku While Reviewing “Suicide Squad”

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A character so memorable that I forgot to include her in the review.

(Originally posted Dec. 19, 2016)

Kevin: I’ll be honest folks, this was a tough one. Originally I was going to do a Drunken Review like CJ’s post on the “Point Break” remake, but after about 10 minutes I realized there was no way I could get as drunk as the editors obviously were when they pieced together the footage for this turd. Then I was still going to comment on it in real time, which would necessitate a lot of pausing, rewinding, and writing, and I decided I was not going to spend more time on this review than David Ayer did writing the script.

Instead I will mainly focus on my biggest beef with “Suicide Squad” and how I would improve it: namely this squad really sucks. First let’s meet the supposed “worst of the worst” recruited to help defend us in case “the next Superman” is a terrorist who does not share our values, which I guess would mean he would cause only slightly more death and destruction than our good friend the Man of Steel has in his recent films. Either way, we have:

  • Deadshot (Will Smith): Deadly assassin who, according to his on-screen bio, is lethal from 4,000 meters and expert with everything including a 9mm pistol, bazooka, and a potato canon (would like to know how that came up). Despite constantly calling himself a bad guy, also refuses to kill women and children and has a daughter he’s trying to do right by, so essentially no different than every good guy assassin in movies. I should point out that being good at shooting guns would not help much against an evil Superman.

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  • Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie): Former psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, now psychotically co-dependent girlfriend of the Joker. So her powers seem to be that she’s addicted to bad relationships and she has a baseball bat, neither of which seems useful against an evil Superman.

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  • Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney): According to this Aussie’s on-screen bio, he’s a psychologically deranged lunatic and possible alcoholic who has been charged with 54 counts of aggravated assault and 98 counts of first-degree burglary. So basically he’s like every Australian man. You may have picked up the subtle hint from his name that he is good at throwing boomerangs, which doesn’t seem useful against … you know where I’m going with this. Is also introduced getting easily captured by The Flash, which would seem to be a strike against his ability to fight even more powerful people, but whatever.

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  • Diablo (Jay Hernandez): A former L.A. gangbanger who can shoot deadly and destructive flames and fireballs through his hands. Holy shit, an actual ability that could prove useful against superpowered beings!

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  • Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje): According to his bio, has high endurance, fast reflexes, and enhanced sense of smell. Oh yeah, and he’s also a giant crocodile man.

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  • Enchantress (Cara Delevingne): A 6,000-year-old sorceress from another dimension who inhabited the body of June Moone, an archaeologist who fell into a cave and released the witch’s spirit after intentionally breaking the head off an ancient statue, which if nothing else makes her a shitty archaeologist. Not technically a member of the Suicide Squad since she escapes early on and the rest of the squad has to stop her from destroying the world, which continues the recent tradition of movies like “Man of Steel” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” where we are supposed to root for the heroes to clean up the mess they themselves created.

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  • Slipknot (Adam Beach): A member of the squad who weirdly doesn’t get a formal introduction like the others and only appears right before they embark on their mission. Good with ropes I guess, sort of unclear. You may not want to get too invested in this one. Basically what I’m saying is don’t expect to see a lot of Slipknot cosplayers next year.

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  • Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman): “The finest Special Forces officer this nation has ever produced,” but since he’s played by Joel Kinnaman he looks and sounds more like the most wanted crystal meth dealer Riverside, California has ever produced. Also has a deep romantic connection with June Moone, which is entirely established with a five-second shot of them kissing in a hotel room. Apparently is resigned to the fact that his girlfriend will occasionally turn into a psychotic evil witch, but we all know what that’s like, am I right fellas! (Puts hand up for a high-five.)

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That’s it? These are the guys who are supposed to protect us from “flying men and monsters”? This is the “worst of worst”? Sorry but this is where the movie goes wrong, because these supposed All-Stars are nothing but career minor leaguers. Now if you were going to really put together a fearsome group of bad guys, the kind who don’t have to constantly talk about how they are bad guys, this is who I would choose for a truly badass Suicide Squad:

  • Peter Dellaplane (“Action Jackson”): The country’s top carmaker who won Detroit’s “Man of the Year” award despite being an obvious psychopath. Good enough at martial arts to hold his own against the world’s greatest superpowered being, Carl Weathers. Banged both Vanity and Sharon Stone, which would cause most other villains to give up immediately and worship him as their new god.

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  • Screwface (“Marked for Death”): Jamaican drug lord who uses powerful voodoo spells against his enemies and can obviously make him and his fellow Rastafarian crew invisible, since no one in the small Illinois suburb where they operate seems to notice them. Can be two places at once, if you know what I mean (I mean he has a twin brother). Went up against Steven Seagal and only had both eyeballs gouged out, his back broken, and impaled on a spike after being thrown down an elevator shaft, which in my book counts as a moral victory.

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  • Ganz (“48 Hours”): Doesn’t have any noteworthy abilities, but am including him here because he scared the fuck out of me when I was a kid and still does now.

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  • Wah Sing Ku (“Lethal Weapon 4”): The world’s greatest martial artist since he routinely defeats Detectives Riggs and Murtaugh individually and both at once. Also virtually indestructible, as he can withstand being run through with a piece of rebar, shot with a machine gun underwater, and left at the bottom of the ocean (and is probably still alive since we never actually see the corpse).

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  • Commander Krill (“Under Siege”): Just as psychotic as Harley Quinn, and also in an abusive co-dependent relationship with a fellow lunatic, William Strannix. Much sexier than Quinn obviously.

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  • Simon Phoenix (“Demolition Man”): Even when he’s being controlled by futuristic technology is able to get the upper hand. Proven ability to successfully mold some of society’s worst criminals into a cohesive unit. Always has a real upbeat attitude and joie de vivre that lifts the spirits of any team.

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  • Mad Dog (“The Raid”): Actually screw it, you don’t need anybody else, there’s no one who this guy can’t destroy.

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Other thoughts on “Suicide Squad”:

  • The Joker is considered possibly the most iconic comic villain of all time, and in this movie he is introduced with the least amount of fanfare possible, almost as if the filmmakers knew we’d already be so sick of Jared Leto and his stupid Method Acting bullshit that there would be no point in building up his appearance.
  • I guess I’m supposed to decry how sexist it is that Margot Robbie is required to wear a sexy outfit while playing a sexy character, which I will gladly do when someone explains why every actor playing a Marvel hero – including Paul Rudd for god sake – has to work out for six months to do a gratuitous shirtless scene. Seriously, why does Ant Man need a washboard stomach?:

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  • David Ayer obviously hates helicopters, as he crashes three of them during the movie. The first occurs when the chopper ferrying the Suicide Squad is shot out of the sky (if you’re wondering who was doing the shooting, well so am I, and I actually watched the damn thing). The second occurs after the Squad finally rescues Viola Davis’ character Amanda Waller after a seemingly endless second act. The helicopter that was supposed to pick her up gets hijacked by the Joker and then shot down by a third helicopter, which actually does pick Waller up and for some reason flies as low to the ground as possible so it can be knocked out of the sky by Enchantress’ brother. Oh yeah I forgot to mention, Enchantress has a brother who is all powerful, can bend time and space, and cannot be destroyed, except of course by a basic man-made explosive device.
  • I can’t entirely hate this movie due to the unintentionally hilarious flashback to Diablo’s pre-Suicide Squad days as a loving husband and father. While current-day Diablo would look scary as hell even without his flamethrower powers …

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… you would expect that when we flash back to his tragic backstory (gee you’ll never guess what happened to his wife and kids), that he is going to look like a normal human being who then turned into a monster. Nope! He looks exactly the same back then, which makes it even funnier when his wife acts shocked that a guy who looks like that may be into some criminal mischief. I just wish we could have had a scene showing him at his kid’s Parent-Teacher Night.

  • The movie ends with the heroes having to battle superhuman villains before a blue light leading to a portal in the sky destroys all of humanity. The fact that that sums up the endings to about 26 recent summer movies tells you all you need to know about the level of creativity on display here.

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Mike, Anthony, and CJ Add Their Two Cents:

Mike: I just happened to see this movie a few days ago, for the first and only time. To say it was a disappointment would be putting a shine on it. A shine so gleaming that The Flash armed with two Shamwows and a barrel of Turtle Wax would have a hard time matching. I viewed the “extended version,” but from what I hear it’s basically the same movie only with a few more seconds of Margot Robbie’s incredible ass, which I appreciated wholeheartedly.

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who felt that the “worst of the worst” of all the criminals on Earth were not even as bad as most people I hear about on the morning news. A burglar with a boomerang is the worst of the worst? “Watch out, he’s got a boomerang and he knows how to use it”! Wait, actually he doesn’t know how to use it, because the only thing he actually does use it for is to knock out an old man who he has double-crossed at the beginning of the movie. Also, if Viola Davis is in fact recruiting a team to combat the possibility of an evil Superman, why doesn’t she recruit Lex Luthor? He’s just only the guy who actually killed Superman and lived to tell the story!

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Anyway, back to the actual movie. My biggest issue with “Suicide Squad” was that it could have been pretty great if they just simplified the story. I have to believe that, like me, the viewing public as a whole is extremely tired of seeing the entire world on the line every time they sit down to watch a movie. “Suicide Squad” would have been way more compelling if they were fighting a different group of villains who had comparable powers to their own. Killer Croc, he’s strong, he can swim, his skin is impenetrable to almost everything (not counting the micro bomb injector they shot into his neck though, that went in no problem). What is going to happen when he has an underwater showdown with his opposite number, Feisty Fishface? Guess what, we’ll never know, because instead of that happening, Killer Croc just punches a bunch of weird mutants in the face on dry land.

Speaking of the “mutants,” they were really the main villains of the film. The squad spends a majority of their time fighting these things instead of Enchantress and her main squeeze. To me this hearkens back to the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon, which bothered me even as a child because all the Turtles ever seemed to do was hack apart Krang’s army of mindless, nameless, never-ending robot ninjas. You know how long I waited for Donatello to slice off Bebop’s head?! I’m still waiting!!! Every episode always ended like this:

“Oh shit, there’s Rocksteady, what do we do?””

“How about I shove this bow staff up his ass while Michelangelo nunchucks him in the ribs and Raphael shoves a sai into each of his eyeballs?!”

“Yes, let’s do that AFTER we smash apart these 90 ninjabots.”

“But if we deal with the ninjabots then the real targets will get away!”

“Don’t talk back bitch, we’re doing this my way.”

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I guess what I’m saying is that “Suicide Squad” couldn’t even keep my attention long enough to write this review …

Kevin, I heard through the grapevine that David Ayer will be directing an all-female super-villain movie with Margot Robbie reprising her role as Harley Quinn, so get ready for that.

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Kevin: Mike congratulations, because I’ve read a lot of reviews and commentaries of “Suicide Squad” since it came out and you are the first person to make what is, in hindsight, the completely obvious and logical point that Lex Luthor should be a part of the Squad. And yes I read about the new Ayer-Robbie movie, which makes me wonder how exactly does David Ayer keep failing upwards? He’s like the Lane Kiffin of moviemaking. We’ve all seen “Sabotage” and can agree that the person who made that should have never been given a camera again, right? I’ll never forget the chase scene where Arnold Schwarzenegger is in the back of a truck firing a machine gun at the sour-faced chick from “The Killing,” who is shooting at him from an opened trunk of a car, with both vehicles seemingly driving at 15 MPH most of the time and neither person able to hit the other once:

Mike: Thank you Kev! And thank you for reminding me about the ending of “Sabotage,” which was simply fantastic. Arnold betrays and kills his entire team just so he can track some random Mexican to a dive bar in Tijuana and kill him in the shitter.

Anthony: I have a basic problem with “Suicide Squad” that is easy to fix but might be hard to understand if you’re not a regular comic book reader: Magic vs. Physical. “Suicide Squad” is made up for the most part of physical heroes. All of their powers and skills are based in the physical plane. The closest they have to magic is scary face fire-skull man. The Big Bad in this movie is a magic one. Once you do that, all the things a regular person can do can be upended by one word: “magic.” Bullets get turned into roses: magic. I just cut his head off and now it’s back: magic. Will Smith is still a movie star: magic.

You don’t send knives into a gun fight. In “Doctor Strange” everything is magic, so it’s all in the same place. Sending this squad into a magic fight is disaster not only for them but for the audience. We have to watch and wonder why are these people fighting? They are completely out of their element, just like the writers. These Hollywood types have to realize this eventually right? RIGHT?!

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CJ: I actually liked “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” and felt the hate was wildly unjustified. I can’t say the same for “Suicide Squad” though. This was just a boring go-nowhere movie.

My biggest gripe was that as this movie was coming out, I kept hearing about how in this we’d see Batman through the villains’ eyes, which sounded like an awesome idea in theory. Maybe a Batman who is basically a horror movie killer, constantly lurking in the shadows, striking at henchman, but never really saying anything. Instead we get a Batman who comes across Deadshot and his daughter out Christmas shopping and goes out of his way to reason with him and take him in without any violence. From what I could tell, this Batman is more empathetic and accommodating than anyone deserves, while Deadshot in turn acts like Batman killed his favorite dog and stole the stupid mask he puts on when Will Smith obviously wants a break from filming.

My other big complaint is that they completely undo the one halfway clever and logical moment in the film. While having drinks at an abandoned bar right before the climax, Rick Flagg gives his we’re-all-in-this-together-now speech where he essentially says, “I’m destroying the iPad that blows up the bombs in your necks, so you’re free to leave but I’d like you to stay and fight with me.” At which point Boomerang immediately runs out, which would have been hilarious if that was the last we ever saw of him. But nope, later on as they all march to what should be certain death, Boomerang shows back up, with zero explanation as to why. Basically, the slug on the poster should have just said:

“They’re a rag-tag team of violent sociopaths hell bent on watching the world burn. Except when they’re not, which is usually.”

I’ll also admit that when they show Diablo’s backstory and he’s dropped to his knees screaming “Nooooooo!” while cradling his dead child, I laughed. When I can check off “laughing as a man cradles his dead child” off my bucket list, you may not have hit the emotional core in your film that you wanted.

Also, Scott Eastwood’s character dies and it’s supposed to be sad. All I remember was saying, “Oh, I guess that’s Scott Eastwood.”

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Scott Eastwood (the one on the right I think)

And a side note on “Sabotage.” Mike, Anthony, and I saw this when it came out, and Kevin you missed one of the all-time great post-movie discussions. We spent a solid 2 hours at the bar complaining about this movie. I believe it ended with Mike explaining Arnold’s character thusly: “Well, all my friends are dead, I didn’t get any money, and now I’m dead. Everything went according to plan.”

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