Thursday, 20 February 2020

Dark world without heroes drives action in 'Suicide Squad'

SUICIDE SQUAD (Rated PG-13)

A world without Superman’s superhero powers is what happens in “Suicide Squad,” where the DC Comics anti-hero characters are so dark and nihilistic that the interest in director David Ayer’s gloomy vision mostly rests, one would imagine, with the fanboys sure to turn out in droves.

The trend to the dark side of the comic book superhero adventures has been realized lately with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the still edgy but funnier “Deadpool.”

And let’s not forget that “Captain America: Civil War” even raised the stakes on high-octane action with a clash of the superheroes. In this universe of murky conflict, “Suicide Squad” is a comfortable fit.

In a crazy plan that could only be concocted by government bureaucrats, Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller, an intelligence officer who believes what is best in her mind for the United States is what is best for everyone else, puts forth a plan that causes plenty of teeth-gnashing in the corridors of power.

Given that the plot is messy and often baffling, the apparent evil force that requires superhuman efforts to defeat rests with the ancient goddess Enchantress who takes possession of the body of Dr. June Moone (Cara Delevingne).

Complicating matters is the fact that Dr. Moone is the love of the life of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), the career military man and reluctant right hand to Waller who believes the enemy can be defeated the old-fashioned way, with a team of top-notch Navy SEALs.

Apparently, Flag didn’t read comic books while growing up, otherwise he would have known that only a wacky scheme of taking criminal degenerates and blackmailing them into doing a job deemed too down and dirty for undercover agents would result in the mission assembled by Waller.

At the Belle Reve maximum security prison in the swamp land of Louisiana, the world’s most dangerous super-villains possessing an assortment of strange powers or special skills are caged in special solitary confinement cells similar to the Hannibal Lecter experience.

The natural leader among the group of misfits, killers and psychopaths, even though he is a loner, is Deadshot (Will Smith), a highly-disciplined assassin who never misses his target, whether using a handgun, assault weapon or rifle with a powerful scope.

Deadshot is also an enigma since he loves with all his heart his young daughter, who tries in vain to get him to quit the nasty business of being a murderer for hire. He might join the mission just to get a chance at redemption.

It was also up to Deadshot to figure out that his services for the government in order to get out of prison would result in him and his colleagues being patsies that would become, in his words, “some kind of suicide squad.”

Another interesting character in the rogues gallery is Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a former prison psychiatrist gone bad, who is now crazier than any inmate she may have treated in therapy sessions.

Now tattooed and looking like a fallen cheerleader turned into a nasty killing machine, Harley also happens to be the girlfriend of the Joker (Jared Leto), a very twisted character familiar to all “Batman” fans.

Regrettably, given his insanely psychotic nature, the creepy Joker has few scenes in this film, more often than not pining away like a slobbering school boy for his beloved Harley.

With limited screen time, the Joker is unable to make a lasting impression in the pantheon of “Batman” villains that have gone before him.

Other notable villains recruited into the suicide mission include Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje), a genetic mutation with a bad skin condition who thrives underground in the sewers.

The one bad guy who seems to have a conscience is Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a repentant pyromaniac and one-time gangbanger who has backed away from criminality as his life is filled with regret for his inability to control the flames that fly from him when he’s enraged.

Offering a bit of comic relief is a renegade from Down Under, master thief Boomerang (Jai Courtney) who couldn’t care less about the other people on the suicide squad and doesn’t hold back on some caustic remarks.

Neither in the mutant or criminal category is samurai warrior Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a deadly beauty who became a sword master to avenge the death of her husband. She’s loyal to the mission and has Rick Flag’s back when the going gets tough.

“Suicide Squad,” though bleaker and darker than recent films in the DC Comics universe, may hold interest for the targeted audience. Even if the story has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese, the characters are interesting, in a weird sort of way, to watch for a variety of reasons.

The filmmakers incorporated music into “Suicide Squad” that would strongly define the action and energy. The film is infused with everything from classic rock to urban funk to alt rock and rap, with tunes from current artists and legendary rockers.

Despite some major flaws, there is offbeat fun to be had in the wild beat of “Suicide Squad,” where the fast-paced action sequences move everything along at a speed that makes the whole enterprise palatable for fans of the genre. For others, it could be a bit too much to take.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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