Review – Not Quite a Dirty Dozen (“Suicide Squad”)

Another anticipated comic book legend brought to life, Suicide Squad boasts a Dirty Dozen-ish plot full of truly bad villains set on a task to earn their freedom if they’ll help the government destroy another super-baddy. It’s an age-old story, but add the Joker into the mix and you’ve got yourself a party!
*

*
Events after Superman’s (alleged) death from Batman v Superman prompt intelligence operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to have the government enlist a suicide squad of villains in case something really bad happens. Guess what? Something really bad happens! Archeologist Dr. June Moore (Cara Delevingne), who also turns into the spirit witch The Sorceress, has unwittingly unleashed her villainous spirit Inca-like brother, Incubus. Together they ravage Midway City with people-turned-into-monsters-as-warriors while they try to destroy the world. 

Waller, along with her partner, Col. Rick Flagg (Joel Kinneman), get super-villains who are locked away in a maximum secure prison because of their, shall we say, special talents. They are: criminally insane Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), lethal assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), spiky cannibal Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and undead fire-master El Diablo (Jay Hernandez). Combine them with curved-weapon criminal Boomerang (Jai Courtney),  samurai warrior Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and rope master Slipknot (Adam Beach), and you’ve got an uneasy team. AND for insurance, a small explosive is implanted in their necks, in case they misbehave.

Off they go to stop what they think are ordinary terrorists, but after being attacked by bulbous-headed thingys, they’re not so sure. After Waller is kidnapped by Incubus, Deadshot makes the discovery that they’re fighting supernatural creatures, and the team decides they don’t like being lied to and quits. But after a hearty pep talk, off they go to kill Incubus and The Sorceress and save to the planet, with just a brief interruption by the Clowned Prince of Crime, The Joker (Jared Leto in shocking lime-green hair and white skin) who wants his sweetheart, Harley, back at any cost.

The rousing finale has the bad guys squaring off against even badder guys as the ending gives you a nice callback to the beginning, plus an open ending to a possible sequel (and you know that’s gonna happen, right?). You also get an extended cameo by Ben Affleck as Batman and Ezra Miller in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameo as The Flash. Be prepared for a plethora of backstories and flashbacks that saturate the movie, along with scattershot storytelling by writer/director David Ayer.

After all the stories you’ve no doubt heard about the controversy surrounding the super-fast making of this movie, slowing down and taking your time in getting a film made with care and precision has its merits. Overall, yes, it does have some problems with continuity, as scenes are choppy, spliced together too quickly, and seems out of place from some editing mis-matches. Yet, despite these problems, the remedial storyline has alot of fun to it and holds your interest from the characters that inhabit it.

Aside from it’s hiccups, the movie really belongs to stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Both deliver the best lines, have the most screen time, and their performances are the highlights of the movie by far. The acting doesn’t suffer here and the comedic tone bests the graphic ‘doom and gloom’ that was so prevalent in Batman v Superman and Man of Steel.

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

*

*
If you’ve got bad guys to kill, send even badder guys after them, right? Based on E.M. Nathanson’s novel and inspired by true events, this movie has one helluva cast! Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown, Telly Savalas, George Kennedy, Robert Ryan, Donald Sutherland, and Robert Webber to name a few.

Often duplicated, like The Magnificent Seven plot, the set-up was simple: a suicide mission in WW2 that could mean the turning point in the war, calls for a utterly crazy idea. But to pull it off, the military brass has to enlist the nastiest, craziest, dangerous, most cut-throat killers and lunatics they have in prison and train them. The catch? If they survive, they’ll walk away with a full pardon and can go back into the regular army.

The objective: A beautiful German chateau will be hosting a meeting of dozens of high-ranking German officers and guests. The elimination of these guys will presumably stop their ability to respond to D-Day. The dangerous prisoners are to be trained to infiltrate and then wipe out all the officers, but of course, things don’t go exactly as planned. 

The dozen men are notoriously undisciplined and follow their own rules, especially A.J. Maggot (Savalas), a loose cannon and psychopath. The men finally get trained by some miracle and arrive at the chateau to do their job, but all hell breaks loose when Maggot decides he wants to knife a woman at the party just to hear her scream! Yeah, this guy’s seriously nuts! A free-for-all of violence ensues as the plan they were trained for goes south quickly. The iconic scene of Robert Jefferson (football legend Jim Brown) tossing grenades into the chateau’s air vents to blow up the house and then sprinting to the moving truck and his freedom, is one of the most exciting moments of the film.

Directed by Robert Aldrich, this movie was chastised for its over-the-top violence and crudity (remember, this was 1967). Even with all that, it went on to make MGM a mint at the box office and spawned four sequels, a short-lived TV series, not to mention the countless rip-offs and homages to the plot. Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds had story elements that were similar to The Dirty Dozen in many ways.

Here’s a little trivia: John Wayne turned down one of roles because his character was an adulterer! It was funny that Wayne once played Genghis Khan, a tyrannical slaughterer of thousands, but he wouldn’t play a guy who cheated on his wife? Go figure!

Advertisements