Feb 6, 2020
Suicide Squad (2016): a recap (part 5 of 9)
Erstwhile on Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller’s cunning plan to engineer a romance between an ultra-powerful witch and the single person guarding her somehow ran into problems. Enchantress slipped her leash and went rogue, releasing her brother from his Pier One prison. He commenced to tearing down the city while she began to shape the debris into a doomsday machine. Waller had no choice but to mobilize the Suicide Squad, and now they’re going into mortal danger without so much as a training montage.
Yet another belatedly introduced Suicide Squad member hops on the helicopter as it’s almost off the ground. It’s Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a Japanese woman who’s a sword expert and dresses like an anime character; because the Australian who drinks a lot and throws boomerangs, the Latino gangbanger with lots of tattoos, and the black dude who’s a primitive subhuman weren’t quite enough to get Stereotype Bingo.
Katana’s lines, which Flag understands, are in Japanese, but she also understands Flag’s English lines perfectly. This is a small detail, but it’s one of my movie pet peeves and I hate it. Who talks like this? Both people have to understand both languages for it to work; it’s wildly impractical. Just pick a language.
Flag makes it clear that Katana doesn’t have a bomb in her neck, and is here of her own free will to protect Flag. “I would advise not getting killed by her,” Flag says. “Her sword traps the souls of its victims.” Well, that’s a thing.
We have a quick flashback sequence of Katana on the city streets in her native Japan, mercilessly slicing through gangsters. We gather from the dialogue that her husband was killed by criminals and that she hates criminals and wants to kill criminals. Such a honorable and morally inflexible character should generate some juicy narrative tension, given the shady moral context of the movie thus far. Right?
Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” is playing while they’re flying into the wrecked, smoking city. I gotta say, of the three thousand licensed songs shoved into this movie with the finesse of a gorilla hiding a sandwich in a filing cabinet, this the first time the soundtrack has really worked for me. It’s funny, irreverent, and sets the mood. Credit where it’s due.
Harley gets a text on her contraband phone from Joker: “I’m coming for you”. Deadshot notices but stays quiet.
The Squad observes the ring of light from the window of their helicopter. Deadshot asks Flag what it is, and he responds that a dirty bomb went off: “you know, usual shit”. Deadshot is somewhat less than convinced, but Flag spins his doubts as cowardice, and predicts that when the shooting starts, the hitman will “cut and run”.
Almost the second these words leave his mouth, anti-aircraft fire rakes the helicopter’s cabin, kills the pilots, and makes the helicopter hit a crane and crash. But our “heroes” luckily have enough Plot Armor to walk away from the resulting crash without so much as a broken nail.
Another chopper lands nearby and disgorges a squad of soldiers who will sporadically disappear and reappear for the remainder of the movie. Amanda Waller watches from an infrared camera placed… somewhere.
They set out on foot. Captain Boomerang gets to talking to Slipknot, convincing him that the neck bombs are a fake-out and that they can run away any time they feel like it. “We’re free, brah,” he says, narrowly claiming the distinction of Suicide Squad‘s most obnoxious character.
He convinces Slipknot and they decide to make a break for it. Slipknot punches the nearest soldier, and Captain Boomerang throws a boomerang at Katana. She dodges it easily and pins him against the wall at swordpoint. Slipknot shoots a grappling hook and clambers up a building. He shoots another hook and is zip-lining upwards when Flag unsheathes his wrist-computer and taps the button that ends Slipknot’s eight minutes of screentime.
Slipknot’s head blows up in an extremely PG-13 manner, with no blood or chunks or even a ragged neck stump left behind. His corpse hangs over the street like some ghoulish block party decoration.
Captain Boomerang is allowed to live, because he’s so useful to the team and everybody likes him so much.
They start moving again. Deadshot and Harley chat about how bad they want to kill Flag. Cocky Deadshot estimates that he can get Flag, Katana, and five to seven SEALs, “but after that I’m gonna need some help.” Harley asks, “What about the shit in our necks?” Deadshot shoots back, “Your friend’s gonna help us out with that, right?”
Harley smiles. “You’re my friend, too,” she coos.
The team stumbles on a wrecked alley that the music tells us is full of danger. It’s swarming with Enchantress’s foot soldiers, which look kinda like Attack of the the Eye Creatures got a gritty reboot.
According to Flag, they’re supposed to sneak by and not engage, but they get into firing position anyway, and then they stand around like dumbasses long enough that the lumpy monsters see them and attack.
Thus kicks off the first real fight scene, nearly an hour into Suicide Squad, and it’s really boring. The professional soldiers let loose a Stormtrooper-worthy barrage of poorly-aimed fire and die like chumps. Deadshot climbs on top of a car and has himself a nice turkey shoot, dropping entire waves of creatures by himself.
The rest of the team finds different ways to look busy while Deadshot does everything. Katana slices a few creatures, Captain Boomerang stabs some (after they knock a beer out of his hand), Harley kills a few with a bat, Killer Croc punches and claws (gingerly, so as not to tear his rubber suit), and Diablo pointedly avoids even pretending to fight and just stands in the back being a mopey fuck.
There are lots of problems with this fight scene, but the biggest problem is that we don’t know what these creatures are or what they can do. They’re made out of what looks like hardened blobs of asphalt, and they crumble when they’re pierced. They have guns, and sometimes use them, but most of the time they’d rather zerg-rush and attack with their bare hands. Sometimes they can shrug off a center mass or head shot; sometimes not. Sometimes they exhibit superhuman strength and agility, sometimes not. Because their characteristics are so inconsistent, they can’t establish any credible threat to the characters. Not that we particularly care if any of these guys die anyway. Wait, I think I found the actual biggest problem.
At one point Flag gets swarmed by the tar mummies, who try to drag him away instead of killing him for some reason. Harley says good riddance. Deadshot yells, “He dies, we die!” which I don’t remember Waller ever saying, but I suppose you could argue that it’s implied. Harley growls and smashes all the creatures’ heads, freeing Flag.
After the battle’s over, Flag talks to Waller over the radio. Apparently, there’s another team of soldiers they’ve lost contact with. Cut to the captured soldiers being marched up to Enchantress. She’s in front of her huge magic machine, powering it with some serious Elaine dancing. I really can’t get over this. It looks so stupid it makes me think I’ve lost my mind. There must have been hundreds of people who looked at various pre-release cuts of Suicide Squad and they all let this stay in there. Didn’t say a thing.
She takes a break from dancing to give a smooch to the first soldier in line, who gets covered in cirrhotic liver tissue and turned into a tar mummy. “Now you are in my army,” she says.
The Suicide Squad finally gets close to the building and, at Deadshot’s insistence, breezes right in. Harley jumps on an elevator ahead of everybody else so she can check her cell phone in privacy. Joker’s texted her with “I am close be ready”. Suddenly, two tar mummies break into the elevator and try to do her in, but she shoots one in the head and kills the other one with parkour. She strikes an unruffled pose when the elevator stops and she runs into the rest of the team… who… took a faster elevator and… knew which floor she would stop at.
They proceed into a cubicle farm. Waller tells Flag over the radio that she’s getting motion-sensor pings from many, many tar monsters, and they don’t take much time to build tension before they bust out of the ceiling.
As before, there’s nothing very energetic or distinctive to this scene. As before, the camerawork and fight choreography are static and uninspired. As before, they swarm Flag and try to kidnap him, and as before, he’s rescued. There’s a brief flash of excitement when Captain Boomerang gets stabbed, but the blade instead goes into a bundle of stolen cash and tragically, he’s okay. Also, a creature gets killed by having its throat cut, and I don’t even know where to begin with that.
They clear the room and walk out into a hallway, where two whole floors of monsters suddenly remember how to use guns and light them up. Deadshot, in between getting potshots in at the monsters, becomes enraged at Diablo for not fighting.
“This ain’t my fight!” Diablo says. Are you sure, man? They seem to be shooting at you, too. Deadshot berates him: “You don’t stand for shit, you ain’t about shit!” He makes Diablo mad enough that he torches two entire floors full of lumpies.
This is supposed to be a big redemptive moment for Diablo, but all I can think about is what a dickhole he is for not doing this earlier. He could have saved lives.
The stairway’s clear now, and the heroes start up the stairs. Harley Quinn takes a breather, and looking down the middle of the stairwell triggers another flashback. I swear to God, this movie’s more out-of-order than Memento. A pre-psychotic Harley stands beside Joker on a catwalk in some dank factory. Several floors below are industrial vats full to the brim with hot, bubbling cum.
“Would you die for me?” Joker asks. But then he decides, “That’s too easy. Would you live for me?” Harley affirms that yes, she would. To prove it, she swan-dives into the spooge tanks, which bleach her skin clown-pale and melt her clothes. Joker jumps in after her, kisses her, and the two lovebirds’ melted shirts dye the hot cum with Harley’s signature colors.
And on that disgusting note, it’s time to end this edition. Catch us next time for some truly inspired group bonding exercises.