Friday, 5 August 2016

My Love n Hate with Suicide Squad

If I've ever anticipated a movie more than I have David Ayer's Suicide Squad, let me know. When the clock ticked 12 a.m. on New Year's Eve of 2015 and I stepped into the new year, two threads of thought cascaded through my brain:

1. It's my birthday, and 2. Suicide Squad comes out this year.

Each day henceforth became only a skipping stone, drawing me one day closer to the highlight of my 2016. As with many DC comic lovers, I have read all five volumes of Suicide Squad. The announcement of a live-action movie of the same name was more than I could have asked for, and within 2 days of the movie's release, I have watched it twice.

Right off the bat, the question that loomed over me while the movie credits rolled out was, "So what just happened?". It hurts me, a self-proclaimed OG Suicide Squad fanatic, to say that I cannot overlook the incoherence of the plot. The entire movie was like a montage - quick snippets of a rather one-dimensional story being brutally splattered onto the screen, with only the star studded cast and occasional bursts of humour to keep it together. Even then, the movie failed to hold onto a string of continuity. It leaves me wondering if Ayer wrote onto pieces of paper a spectrum of scenes that could be included (from Amanda Waller's callous and unfazed fa├žade to Harley Quinn's happy-go-lucky swings of the bat), dumped them into a top hat and blindly picked out one by one to recreate on set.

Simply put, the plot (assuming there is one) was a mess. A complete mumble jumble. It doesn't stray far from shards of shattered glass that were half-heartedly glued together, their jagged and barbed edges akin to the rough transitions throughout the movie. One moment the movie is ready to unveil the chaotic and deeply disturbing roots of the Joker and Quinn's abusive relationship, and just as we're about to fully submerge into a scene that could shed light on such, we are flung into a closeup of Deadshot who blurts a humorous line before shooting down an army of faceless deformities.

But I give Ayer credit for the vision. The movie was conceptually daring and unapologetic. For some, the splurges of pink, green and blue to signal a flashback were tacky. The list of character traits that appeared whenever a squad member was introduced could have seemed outdated and childish. Personally, I loved them and could not think of a better way to introduce the tone of the movie. Suicide Squad by nature is not some pretentious, morally righteous group of people (you'd need to wait on Justice League for that). They're fun, bouncy, witty, and anything within that range. They're "bad people" governed by a burning desire to make something out of their lives, and in doing so they wreak havoc and crack jokes along the way. It wouldn't be right to cast the movie with a somber tone with somber visuals like those of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Ayer completely nailed the essence of the Suicide Squad, and rightfully executed the upbeat and colourful vibes on which the comics hinge.

To add onto the things that Ayer got right, the characterisation of every single character was absolutely accurate. Of course, character development could have been much more profound. Harley could have been dug deeper to showcase the extent of her introversion and inner conflicts. Her duality was lightly scratched upon - when she distraughtly threw away her Joker branded choker to engulf herself in grief, but quickly wiped away the sadness when the squad approached her so as to tuck away her humane and vulnerable self. The Joker, in all honesty, could have been portrayed as more abusive, manipulative and downright mad. Instead, he took on the aesthetics of some nightmarish, jealousy-stricken crazy ex-boyfriend whose entire sense of being was dependent on Harley.

But I understand that the Joker was added to the cast as more of a crowd-pleaser, an instantly recognisable comic character to draw interest, and, most importantly, to help build Harley's character.

Otherwise, even amidst the tumultuous plot, the characters were branded distinctively and accurately - just as I had pictured them when reading the comics.

Needless to say, the visuals were more than engaging and thrilling, which is what a blockbuster movie like Suicide Squad should achieve.

Holistically, I liked the movie. The plot was heavily underdeveloped, but everything else - characterisation, tone, setting (I couldn't have asked for a more accurate representation of Gotham), Ayer's vision behind the movie - was done just right.

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