Suicide Squad (2016): a recap (part 4 of 9)

Precedingly on Suicide Squad: Waller’s getting the band together. Harley Quinn’s pimp is coming to her rescue. Enchantress is off the leash and up to no good.

Enchantress teleports by wrapping her cloud of bodily funk around her. Her first stop is Amanda Waller’s house, whose location she knows for reasons. Waller’s asleep, and the suitcase containing Enchantress’s heart is beside her.

Enchantress steps toward the suitcase, but stops when it beeps and blinks with a red light, which means… something. Undaunted, she teleports behind a locked door and studies some of Waller’s secret witch-related documents. By total coincidence, she finds her brother in here, calling out to her from inside a jar on a shelf.

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Cut to a subway station in Fake DC Universe City #42. A businessman is washing his hands in a restroom sink when Enchantress appears inside the mirror. She reaches out, bashes his head against the mirror, and while he’s dazed, uncorks the jar so her brother’s soul can slurp into this stranger’s mouth.

“Sample our new cologne?”

They lie on the floor of the bathroom together. “Brother, I have freed you,” she says in Black Speech.

“Where are we?” he asks.”The same world, only much later,” she says. They have a little chitchat about how the humans used to worship them as gods, but now they worship machines. “So I will build a machine to destroy them all,” says Enchantress. She tells her brother to “feed” on the humans to build his strength, and then she zooms off.

Having transformed back into Dr. Moone in transit, she appears sobbing in her hotel room with Rick Flag. “She went somewhere,” he helpfully informs her. “If you have to choose between her or me, stop her,” Moone says. “Even if it kills me.”

“Well, those are my exact orders, so… no.”

Meanwhile, Enchantress’s little brother—I’m gonna call him Chester—collapses on a subway platform. A cop and a doctor rush over to help him. Suddenly, a tentacle pops out of… somewhere… and wraps around the doctor’s head, and pulls him in. Another tentacle does the same to the cop, and the whole bundle of bodies rolls over the subway platform and falls down onto the tracks.

Chester grabs the third rail and the electricity makes… something… happen. An amorphous blob forms, which splits open like a chrysalis to reveal a bigger Chester wearing armor stolen from a Power Rangers villain. He spits a magic tentacle at the oncoming subway train, tearing it apart like wet tissue paper. Debris and people fly everywhere, and it’s harder than ever to tell what’s happening.

“Help! It’s badly rendered!”

So we got trouble right here in Midway City, and since the superheroes with jurisdiction over the area are all washing their hair tonight or something, the government decides it’s time to call “Task Force X” into action. We’re treated to a montage of all the baddies putting up token resistance before getting tazed and/or sedated into submission and strapped into restraint chairs.

Our hapless anti-heroes are then wheeled to an area where lab techs are unboxing scary equipment courtesy of Van Criss Laboratories, a name which might mean something if you’re a bigger comics nerd than I am. One by one, they’re injected in the neck with a thing, and ultrasound-ed to make sure the thing got in there.

Remember when you could just pop down to Claire’s and get a piercing? Now they’ve got all these health regulations.

Officer Douchecanoe runs alongside Harley as she’s wheeled onto a transport plane. “You’re being transferred. I don’t know where you’re going,” he says, while slipping her a pink cell phone courtesy of “Mr. J”. He’s doing this with actual armed soldiers mere feet away, and making no effort to be sneaky. “You gonna tell him I took care of you, right?”

“You are so screwed,” Harley says, laughing.

Cut to an establishing shot outside Van Criss Laboratories, which the title card says is a division of Wayne Corp, and I don’t know what we’re supposed to make of that. I guess it’s just reminding us that this movie’s universe includes Batman, because, you know, those two scenes he appeared in were a long time ago. Joker drives up in a fake delivery van and they use the pretense of wanting to see Dr. Van Criss to break in. Once inside, Joker and his henchies shoot the place up.

“Goddammit, guys, the Purge is NEXT Thursday! Go home!”

A guy we don’t know is hiding in a locked room made of bulletproof glass, so Joker gains entry by placing a tablet on the glass with a live video of someone else we don’t know being held at knifepoint. Joker is let inside, where he sees a rack full of the same whatchamadoodles we just saw used to inject the kajiggers into the Suicide Squad. “This looks neat,” he says, and injects the guy in the throat.

I have so many questions. Why did Joker drive all the way to Louisiana, where he knows Harley is, only to double back and drive to wherever Van Criss Laboratories is? Why did he want to go here? What did he expect to accomplish here? What did he accomplish here? Who are any of these characters we just met? What happens when you’re throat-injected with one of those inject-y-bobs with nothing in it?

Those answers will have to wait until later, because it’s time to cut to Midway City. Chester’s strolling around, shrugging off sustained small-arms fire, and tearing things and people apart with his magic orange tentacles that leave turquoise scorch marks behind.

Yes, turquoise.

Flag and Dr. Moone are in a subway tunnel. “He’s right above us,” Flag says. Okay, what the fuck? Weren’t these guys just in Washington DC? Like, just right now in Washington?

“Rick, this is a mistake,” protests. Dr. Moone. “I can’t do this…”

“There’s no other way,” he insists. “Just get it done.” No other way than what? What in the jolly green hell is even going on?

Moone breaks into tears and transforms into Enchantress. The next thing we see is Amanda Waller in some sort of command center talking to Flag, who reports that Moone “bolted”. The timing of the lines suggests he’s lying, but he’s not. We find this out later, during a lame-ass flashback “reveal” that in no way justifies mangling this scene to shreds.

“Shit,” Waller says, as she opens up her briefcase and stabs Enchantress’s heart repeatedly. Back in the subway station, Enchantress, with wounds appearing in her heart, implores Chester to share some of his power with her so she doesn’t die. He does so by thrusting a tentacle right into her chest. This fresh infusion of manna makes her filth cloud fall away and gives her a Queen of the Damned outfit and a hat that I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Grimes wear.

“Where’s your heart?” he says. “I will take it back; until then, you will share your power.” She seems to be doing pretty well without it, but what would I know?

“Now help me build my weapon.” Her tattoos glow as a giant column of light erupts from the ground. The column makes some cloudy blobs of… something… coalesce into vaguely mechanical shapes. Debris lifts off the ground and orbits the column in a circle. Chester steps outside to fuck shit up with his magic tentacles and add more wrecked Humvees and helicopters to the debris pile.

Cut to the Midway City evacuation zone, and it’s daylight all of a sudden, meaning that the plane that brought the villains to Midway City (which took off in the daytime) took an entire night to get here, and then some, while Flag and Dr. Moone were able to get here the same night. I know, I know.

It’s time for Task Force X to meet each other, as such. This next scene is far longer than it needs to be, to allow Suicide Squad a breather, because it obviously can’t move at a decent clip for too long without falling apart like a rickety car in a Buster Keaton sketch.

Harley’s the first to introduce herself to the assembled soldiers, and she uses the opportunity to do a hackneyed bit about mental illness. “What?” she says. “I should kill everybody and escape? Sorry, it’s the voices,” she chuckles. “I’m kidding! That’s not what they really said.”

*lookatmelookatmeLOOKATMEEEEE*

FBI folks drop off two more non-Belle Reve prisoners: Captain Boomerang and Slipknot. Wait, who? Oh, um, his name’s Slipknot, and his superpower is being really good at climbing stuff. No, not like Spider-Man; like, with ropes and grappling hooks and stuff. Lame, right? There’s a reason he didn’t get a flashback sequence, and it’s the same reason that farms don’t name their pigs.

Played by Adam Beach, who lasted almost as long on Law & Order: SVU.

Flag explains the purpose of those injections in their necks. It’s a “nanite” explosive (which I really don’t think is the word he was looking for). It’ll blow up their heads if they try to escape, disobey orders, or “otherwise irritate or vex” Flag. “I’m known to be quite vexing; I’m just forewarning you,” says Harley, because her character totally says stuff like “I’m known to be quite vexing”.

Flag lets the crew grab “what [they] need for a fight”. Translation: the costumes they wore on all the movie posters. Apparently, Harley Quinn can’t fight without spangly booty shorts that look like they’re dripping with disease. Captain Boomerang grabs a stuffed pink unicorn, because Suicide Squad is like your dumb acquaintance who thinks if he repeats a joke enough times someone will finally laugh.

The crew chews the fat while changing. Deadshot looks at his mask. “Every time I put this on, somebody dies,” he tells Harley. He then adds, “I like putting this on,” indicating a level of anti-heroism that Will Smith is 100% unable to deliver.

Captain Boomerang is giving Diablo grief about his facial tattoos. Deadshot warns that he’d better be careful, because Diablo could rotisserie everyone anytime he likes. Diablo insists “you got nothing to worry about from me. I’m cool, homie.”

If you look closely, you might see the Foreshadowing Fairy hovering around.

Flag grabs a tablet (a piece of technology this movie is weirdly obsessed with) that shows Amanda Waller giving them a pep talk from her bunker in an unknown location. Their mission is to rescue someone code-named “HVT-1”, who is “the only person that matters in this city; the one person you can’t kill.” Well, it would be totally obvious and lame if that person turned out to be Waller herself, so I bet they’ve got some other crazy surprise planned instead. Right? Right??

“So that’s it?” Deadshot asks. “What are we, some sort of [dun dun dun] Suicide Squad?”

Oh my gosh, the suspense! Will they complete their mission? Will Flag have to blow up everybody’s heads? Will Joker do something relevant to the plot? Find out next time on part 5 of Self-Destruction Team.

Multi-Part Article: Suicide Squad: a recap

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  • Karl

    “I have so many questions. Why did Joker drive all the way to Louisiana,
    where he knows Harley is, only to double back and drive to wherever Van
    Criss Laboratories is? Why did he want to go here? What did he expect to
    accomplish here? What did he accomplish here? Who are any of
    these characters we just met?”

    He went to Louisiana to rescue Harley, Officer DC told him about the injected bombs, so he had to go to the Van Criss Lab to figure out an override. The guy locked in the room was a scientist there and Joker used video footage of his family getting threatened to open the door.

    I was able to piece that together when I watched it the first (and only) time. My questions were: How did he know which lab to attack? How did he know which scientist’s family to threaten? How did he know there would be a point where he would have to threaten someone’s family to get the door unlocked?

    And the most important was why did nobody warn Flagg or Waller that the lab where their injectable bombs are made got raided by the Joker? Not like he was stealthy about it.

    • Tyler Peterson

      You’re right, of course. I was being hyperbolic there – a lot of stuff that isn’t obvious about that scene at the time you watch it either gets straightened out later or can be inferred. And I really meant the “who are these guys” questions in the sense of “the way this scene is directed makes it seem like we should know/care about these guys already”.

      But the fact remains that they didn’t inject the neck bombs until after the Midway City attacks, which Joker couldn’t have known about in advance. As long as Harley didn’t have one, the simpler option would be to stay in Louisiana and break her out of jail, which J obviously has enough firepower to do.
      Plus, an awful lot hinges on assuming that DC knows all about Task Force X. He’s just a prison guard. Moreover, some of his dialogue, and just his general untrustworthiness, seem to indicate that he’s kept pretty far in the dark.

      • Karl

        Yea, I hadn’t had my coffee yet. I reread it later and picked up on the questions being rhetorical. Sorry about that.

        And you’re right about DC not having that kind of access to information along with the fact that Joker seems to gain advanced knowledge out of nowhere.

  • Xander

    This is the part of the movie where I paused and checked the chapter listing because I felt like I had missed something. When the flashback came up later, I seriously wondered what the point of it was. There were no revelations there: it just slowed down the flow of the movie there and completely screwed up the coherency here.

  • Chris Hedrick

    So, Slipknot. Apparently, his name is Christopher Weiss, and he was a VERY minor villain of Firestorm. He was a chemist who created a super adhesive which he applied to “unbreakable” ropes. That’s according to the DC wiki, and there isn’t much more about him that’s noteworthy. With a resume like that, I wouldn’t have bothered giving him a flashback either.

  • PhysUnknown

    As soon as Slipknot showed up, I knew exactly what was going to happen to him. I was actually wondering who it would be, as I figured it wouldn’t be any of the characters with backstories. Might as well have just put him in a red shirt.

    • Michael Weyer

      To be fair, it’s what happens to him in the comic. There, they had explosive braclets on their arms and he bolts in a fight so it blows up to prove it’s real.

      • Xander

        Yeah, but most people going to the film probably didn’t read the comic first. It would have been interesting to see his backstory so the boom was a little more shocking.

      • mamba

        As I recall it was also Boomerang who goaded him to do it, to test the “are they real bombs or not” aspect, and when slipknot’s arm goes Boom, Boomerang basically shrugs and goes “Huh, guess they weren’t lying after all…good to know.”, kind of like they tried to recreate here.

        Of course, being DC movie Suicide Squad, the scene didn’t have even half the emotion or meaning, but that’s par per course.

  • mamba

    Yeah, I have no idea why enchantress was allowed to live a single solitary second after she teleported away. It was like Waller and Flag agreed that “Ah well, no harm done so no need to kill her yet” without even bothering to find out where she went or what she’d done. Related note: Amanda Waller’s special place has no security cameras or motion sensors??? she should have known enchantress was there within an hour! Then they actually trust her later on? sheesh…they deserved to be wrecked for that one.

    As to why Task Force x was assigned to begin with, that’s easy…because it’s all Waller’s fault and she doesn’t want the blame. 100% of this is her fault, and easily tracked to her. so send in the disposable people to clean up her mess. (spoiler: later on she practically confirms this herself)

    As for Flag/Moore in the subway, best guess was it took her brother a day or so to start his crap, so they had time to get there, presumably no teleporting (Amanda had time to wake up, get showered, and get to the office by this point so time passed…). But why would they just assume enchantress isn’t responsible when Flag saw her bolt at night? No idea…maybe Flagg didn’t even tell Amanda? Idiotic, but possible…And yeah, HVT1 was SOOO obvious it was barely even worth keeping a secret reveal. BUT it confirms the timeline at least…she was AT the office the next day when “chester” started his rampage trapping her. again, it’s all her fault, and the task is sent for her to clean up her mess. Public safety means nothing to her…totally ruthless.

    p.s. I actually kinda liked Harley’s joke, like when she was messing with DC telling him he’s screwed and making him sweat it out forever. Her own personal fun with those around her, using her psych training to know the buttons to push.

    • Xander

      I wish you’d been the editor on this film.
      If ever there were a movie that needed the trite title cards saying when/where things were taking place after every couple of cuts, it was this one. Yes, they had title cards for when areas were first introduced, but there was NOTHING indicating what time it was. A Resident Evil-style map of where the protagonists were would have been great, as well.

  • Charlie

    I wasn’t aware of any religion where machines are worshipped, did I miss a memo?