Title: Suicide Squad
Language: English, Japanese, Spanish
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Director/Writer: David Ayer
Music: Steven Price
Cinematography: Roman Vasyanov
Robin Atkin Downes
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Action
Director: Paul Feig
Music: Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography: Robert D. Yeoman
Michael Kenneth Williams
Ed Begley Jr.
Taking one day out of my vacation, I resumed to my cinema-going routine, watched a blockbuster double-bill in the regional multiplex, to bookend this year’s dismayed and fatigued summer spell of Hollywood offerings, a much-hyped DC Universe ensemble action flick and a much-maligned female reboot of a beloved franchise in the 80s (interestingly, both are declined for the ballooning Chinese mainland access).
SUICIDE SQUAD, conspicuously hits a nadir in its feedback from critics, which officially raise the curtain of the battle-of-wits between DC franchises and carping pundits, perhaps it will be wiser for their next projects to skip the early critics screenings, if their claim of those films are made for diehard comic books fans is sincere, who cares about critics then? The only problem is, the diehard fan-base alone cannot cough up enough dough to cover its hefty production budget, and since it is all about money, one might expect some sea change will soon befall from their grandee decision makers.
This time, one must concur with the critics, maybe in light of a seriousness-bucking freshness wrought by Marvel’s DEADPOOL (2016) into the ever-blasé superhero glut earlier this year, audience’s surged expectancy towards SUICIDE SQUAD has reached a threshold of inevitable ricochet. There is something frustratingly by-the-numbers in this supposedly paradigm-shifting entertaining fare where a ragtag cluster of characteristic antiheroes are reluctantly mustered together – in this case, a bomb is implanted in their neck, which can be detonate by Colonel Red Flag (Kinnaman, looks impeccably high-minded, ) if they rebel or try to escape -, to work for the US government and save the world from an impending doom from a sorceress-deity Enchantress (Delevingne).
Top hit-man Deadshot (Smith) and former psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Robbie) are among the expendables who predictably get the star treatment with a more generous story arc and screen-time, but Smith doesn’t comes off so much a merciless mercenary than a traditionally valued family man who solely happens to be a marksman. As for Robbie, the current “it” girl in Hollywood, her over-zealous impersonation of Quinn’s bi-polar bearings patently stands out among the assembly, not because she is phenomenal, only the competition isn’t challenging enough. Yet, the biggest disappointment is Jared Leto’s Joker, short-changed in screen-time notwithstanding, his pompous performance is hammy to high heaven, menace and romantic vibes between Joker and Harley Quinn are both in dire dearth. Courtney’s Captain Boomerang is the only member who betrays a whiff of unpredictability in his veins, whereas a penitent Diablo (Hernandez), being the only one who actually is bestowed with super power among the squad, follows a stock plot device, awakes from his shell of self-punishment (for his own sins) to embrace his power to battle the evil.
A stony-faced Viola Davis plays Amanda Walker, a government agent abides by her own gray-area philosophy and wantonly overstays her welcome, and a long-standing villain problem in the superhero assembly-line doesn’t ameliorate at all, numberless and faceless minions are basically weapon-less moving targets to boost the gang’s close-combat dexterity, and motivation-aside, is Enchantress’s swaggering portal-opening parade a blatant homage to the original GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)? Also the inundating score from Steven Price during the heightened battle is insufferable. Concisely, SUICIDE SQUAD is vapidly oscillating between a costly cult caterer and a pulpy mainstream appeaser, and as it often turns out, it falls between these two stools.
The rebooted GHOSTBUSTERS is a different kind of mayhem in a lesser extent, in its nub, it is a reinvention out of the original story written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, with a vital and relevant gender-swapping. And each member of the foursome posse has passed the appraisal as genuine comedienne thanks to their Saturday Night Live stint, not to mention Melissa McCarthy is presently THE most bankable US comedienne in the movie business, which has been kick-started by director Paul Feig’s BRIDESMAIDS (2011).
In the remake, Erin Gilbert (Wiig), a tenured-to-be physics professor at Columbia University rekindles her passion for paranormal activities when she has to confront her school-day bestie Abby Yates (McCarthy), now a maverick researcher, for publishing the book which they wrote together about the existence of that particular subject matter years ago, behind her back. They meet a real ghost in a haunted house which thrusts them to form a “Ghostbuster” team to catch ghosts, with the participation of the technology-savvy Jillian Holtzman (McKinnon) and the street-smart subway worker Patty Tolan (Jones, not a latecomer like Ernie Hudson in the original, she is a loudmouth and her presence is ubiquitous), who offers them a hearse-revamped automobile, plus a dimwit eye-candy Kevin (Hemsworth, who is amazingly good in his goofy and flippant dash) as their inept secretary, whom, Erin has a crush on (and who doesn’t? Maybe only Holtzman, but unfortunately the lesbian undercurrent never catches on).
Pristine-looking in present-day New York, the reboot seems rather expensive, and its visual grandeur rightfully gives enough credits to the Special Effects advancement between the whopping thirty-some gap, with highlights like a green reptile ghost which is a mixture of dragon and Baphomet, running amok in a heavy metal concert, and the ultimate boss, a gigantic glowering form of Ghostbusters’ trademark logo based on an unthinkable concept that a human being can be changed into an amorphous ghost simply by electrocution, that is what Rowan North (Casey), a withdrawn sociopath, manages to pull off after successfully building a portal to a ghost world.
The dutiful cameos (Murray, Aykroyd, Hudson, Weaver, Potts and even the son of the late Harold Ramis) from the original franchise are less than surprising, the real deal here is McKinnon’s Dr. Holtzmann, a unique incarnation of both flamboyance and geekiness, she is in effect the life force behind their enterprise, which makes Wiig and McCarthy look rather amateurish in this peculiar line of business, although it does seem to be pretty easy for her to constantly ply the team with updated ghost-capturing weaponry.
Labelled as a faithful remake, this fantasy-comedy crowd-pleaser doesn’t deserve all the backlash, especially those sexist and racist ones, the problem seems to be – Paul Feig and his female-empowering team ruefully pick a safe route to retread the old path, instead of going off the beaten track, at least for the sake of its comedic fodder, like he did in SPY (2015) last year with McCarthy, especially we are all fully aware what a superlative one-liner and deadpan impersonator Wiig is, alas, the entire project eventually settles for an unambitious aim which has been aptly executed, but, if they hope to reboot a new franchise, the first step is a middling one, and according to the financial turnover, a sequel is a long shot at this point.