‘Suicide Squad’ Review

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Director: David Ayer

Writer: David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, Scott Eastwood, Common, Jim Parrack, Ike Barinholtz, David Harbour, Viola Davis, and Ben Affleck

Synopsis: A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a mid-credit scene.*

 

Here we go again. Warner Bros. released their newest film set within their DC Extended Universe, but this time it follows villains instead of heroes, and it has been making fans and critics butt heads. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say some of it is just crazy. However, Suicide Squad isn’t just free and clear since some of the negativity is warranted, but not all of it. The film itself isn’t all that great, but isn’t terrible either. So let’s get to reviewing the worst heroes ever.

Suicide Squad is set after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and sees government agent Amanda Waller (Davis) who has an idea to bring together the, as she puts it, “worst of the worst.” The plan is to make a task force called Task Force X, filled with villains like The Man that Never Misses, Deadshot (Smith), Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn (Robbie), the monstrous Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Australian diamond thief Captain Boomerang (Courtney), pyro-kinetic Diablo (Hernandez), master rope man Slipknot (Beach) and June Moone (Delevingne) who is possessed by the witch Enchantress. The idea is that Waller wants a task force to fight off any other meta-humans – a term many comic books fans will know – threat that come their way.

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The government, not so sure about Waller’s plan, is suddenly left to go through with it when a supernatural event occurs in Midway City. Considering the task force is filled with villains, Waller and the government have their easy out if things go wrong. To make sure things go smoothly, Waller makes solider Rick Flag (Kinnaman) her man on the ground, with his bodyguard and right-hand woman Katana (Fukuhara) to protect him in case the team gets any ideas – there’s also an explosive implant in the neck. However, when the team finally arrives to Midway City, they soon realize things are way worse than they thought.

Suicide Squad has been highly anticipated since the first teaser that came out last year after Comic Con. But again, with all the craziness that came out before the film’s release like competing cuts and all the early negative reviews, the film went even more under the microscope. I personally wasn’t sold on Suicide Squad for awhile, but as it got closer to the release, I was looking forward to it and hoping it was good. Then I saw the film, and I have to say, it isn’t what I thought it would be. Even with the early negative reception from critics, Suicide Squad was always going to be a risk for the DC Extended Universe. It’s following villains that maybe some casual fans don’t know, it’s expecting you to root for them from the get-go, and it’s following Batman v Superman. Also, no matter what you thought the film was about, we had no idea what to expect.

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I did want to like Suicide Squad, and for the most part I liked it more than I thought I would. However, there is no denying the film does have a good chunk of issues. One of them is, unfortunately, an issue that Dawn of Justice had in editing. Thankfully, the film’s editing is better, but not by a lot. Deadshot and Harley Quinn are introduced at the beginning of the film, and then are reintroduced when Waller is making the rundown of who she wants on Task Force X. The introductions to the characters are a bit wonky, as it quickly rundowns what makes them so bad and then either jumps to how they were captured, or gives each other them – expect Slipknot, but come on, that’s not a spoiler – a vignette. I don’t mind the way they did it, but there were probably better ways of introducing the characters.

The pacing for the film is fine as it drives forward with action, expect there’s a random flashback that Harley has that derails the pacing the film had going. The other thing that pretty much kills the thin story, is Waller’s plan for the Suicide Squad, makes no sense. I won’t obviously spoil what her plan is, but once you see the whole scheme of things, you are left wondering what the hell was the point? Combine that with some of the other issues the film has, you start to see that there was some behind-the-scenes juggling going on. It also doesn’t help that film moves from set-piece to set-piece.

Once the Suicide Squad makes it to Midway City, the action kicks in. The action is great to watch, and besides the cast, is one of the best parts of the film. Seeing all these villains comes together and essentially be the good guys, or at least anti-heroes, to take down literally faceless monsters is a sight to watch. I would have liked to see the group go at it themselves, but they just kind of agree to be grouped together. The only ones that really go at it is Deadshot and Flag. Also, it would have been nice to see some of the action scenes that were cut, well any of the scenes really, from the film.

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Speaking of the cast, the majority of the cast really works. I’ll admit, I had my doubts about Will Smith playing Deadshot. Not because I don’t like Smith, but because I don’t see Deadshot as a Will Smith character, but boy did he prove me wrong. Of course, Deadshot is played by Will Smith, so you just see Smith, but he’s still great in the role. Margot Robbie is one of the highlights of the film. Although it really is hard to judge considering this is Harley Quinn’s first time on the big screen, but Robbie is really great at Quinn. There were moments where I thought they took it just a notch over, but overall Robbie has set the bare high for any future Harley Quinn actresses.

Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is, arguably, one of the most frightening characters in the whole film. That’s saying something considering what the film is filled with, but you believe Davis as Waller as this cut-throat, no nonsense agent who wants things done her way. The other highlight of the film for me is Jay Hernandez as Diablo. The character doesn’t do too much, but when you find out why it makes sense and makes him probably one of the most well-rounded characters in the film. The problem is that it takes time see what makes him tick and why he is the way he is, and it’s really disappointing.

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The other characters really don’t do much. Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag is okay, but it’s hard to see him taking command of a bunch of supervillains. Killer Croc, although looks great in the practical make-up, all he does is grunt and snarl at his team. He does speak in the film and it’s pretty humorous when he does, but still. Captain Boomerang is essentially the comedic relief of the film, and while I’m not a fan of Jai Courtney he does a pretty decent job here. Kudos does go to Karen Fukuhara as Katana, because this is Fukuhara’s first film and her Katana has some cool scenes in the film, but her character doesn’t do much in the film either. Cara Delevingne as June Moone/Enchantress is meh We don’t spend any time with June Moone, so we don’t really have any sort of connection to her. When it comes to Enchantress, the best scene is her first scene when she is formally introduced in a room full of government officials. That is saying a lot since she plays a very vital role in the film.

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Finally, Jared Leto’s The Joker. I know a lot of people were looking forward to Leto’s Joker from the first photo that was revealed. It also goes without saying that Leto’s Joker was always – no matter what anyone says – going to be judged against other Joker’s that came before him. It’s also unfair that he’s the first Joker after Heath Ledger’s great performance as The Clown Prince. I had my doubts about Leto’s Joker, and I hoped that he’d pull it off, but sadly he didn’t for me. Leto tried to do his own thing, while looking to pay some little homage to the Joker’s before, but it didn’t click for me. His little ticks and nuances came off as a little over-the-top, and ultimately doesn’t really do anything worthwhile in the film. We know now that Leto filmed more scenes as The Joker for the film that were cut – some even appear in the trailers, but not the film – but that isn’t a justification for shoehorning him into the film.

All in all, Suicide Squad isn’t a bad film like some critics are saying, but it isn’t a great film either, and you can see that Warner Bros. did have a hard time deciding what this film was going to be. Smith, Robbie, Hernandez and Davis are the highlights of the huge cast that could have gone wrong. There are some nice surprises in the film as well, but overall, Suicide Squad is really going to be one of those movies you either like or dislike. Personally, I’m indifferent to the film. I liked most of the film, but the issues of the film make the film bit disappointing as a whole because there was potential.

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Suicide Squad

3 out of 5

‘Fury’ Review

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Dir: David Ayer

Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jim Parrack, Brad William Henke, Kevin Vance, Xavier Samuel and Jason Isaacs

Synopsis: April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

Unlike most wars movies, David Ayer’s Fury sets the action near the end of World War II. The Allied forces are moving into Germany, troops are starting to break down, and the tank forces are down to only a few. The film follows one particular tank, “Fury” which is lead by Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Pitt) and his crew Boyd “Bible” Swan (LaBeouf), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Pena), and Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Bernthal). We find out that they have just lost someone in the crew and has been replaced with new recruit and typist Norman Ellison (Lerman), who is completely out of his element. The crew is then sent out and have survive not just the war but each other, which is easier said than done.

 

We quickly learn who our main characters are. Pitt’s “Wardaddy” is the tough no nonsense sergeant, Pena’s “Gordo” is a hard drinking wise-ass driver, Bernthal’s Grady is the loader and is more “beast than man” as someone points out to him and “Bible” is religious – hence the name – and is the tank’s gunner. The group isn’t perfect. They have their little arguments and fight here and there, but the next minute they would be willing to die for each other. However, the group dynamics really show you how war can break a man and what happens when you do it for a long time.

 

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While we get to know the crew of “Fury,” the story could really be about Wardaddy and Norman. Both men are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to war. One being a seasoned fighter and the other is desperately trying to survive after being thrown in hell. One understands that you need to let the urge to kill off and it’s a kill or be killed world – which he shows him the hard way. The other is still trying to keep his innocence and acts as a surrogate for the audience to show us that these men might be far too gone.

 

This is driven more home by a scene that involves the whole group in a home with two German women (played by Anamaria Marinca and Alicia von Rittberg). The difference is light and day. Although I will admit the scene is a bit long but it does serve its purpose and builds up a lot of tension.

 

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The movie is brutal. Pitt’s Wardaddy even makes a statement that sums it up pretty nicely, “ideals are peaceful, history is violent.” Fury doesn’t hold back on the violence, at all. The first death comes within the first two minutes of the film and it gives you an idea on how violent and brutal the movie is going to be – also the fact that it’s a war movie should give you a good impression too.

 

Of course the movie is about a tank crew, so you can guess there is some a pretty good amount of tank action. The action is pretty great and you get a good feel that these characters have been doing this for a while. They all have their part of play and play it well. They can’t afford to not by in sync because everything needs to be lined up just right. One standout tank sequence comes near the end of the film where it’s a three-on-one tank battle. It’s got great tension, cinematography, and well action.

 

As you can probably assume, the cast is great here. Pitt is obviously good at barking orders, and does have moments where he cuts loose on the action. But it’s also his performance when he’s not being a leader, those moments when it looks like he’s trying to keep a grasp of some humanity. Lerman holds his own against the rest of the seasoned cast and shares most of his scenes with Pitt, and it shows that he stepped up his game to be on that same level of talent.

 

Bernthal is basically the bully and most unhinged of the group, but has his reasons. LaBeouf has his moments and one standout moment near the end but along with Pena doesn’t get much to do and get thrown a bit in the backburner. Jason Isaacs also shows up as a commander that gives “Fury” its order but is nothing more than just a very small role.

 

All in all, Fury is a brutal, action drama that shows us that sometimes heroes are not always perfect and have to cross into the grey area to survive. There are some problems here and there, but the great performances and tank action make the film easy to seat through.

 

Brad Pitt in Fury

 

Fury

4 out of 5

‘Sabotage’ Review

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Dir: David Ayer
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Mireille Enos, Max Martini, Harold Perrineau and Olivia Williams
Synopsis: Members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house.

 
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 
John “Breacher” Wharton (Schwarzenegger) is a veteran DEA agent who leads an elite, hardcore special ops team, most of whom we only know through nicknames: “Grinder (Manganeillo), “Monster” (Worthington), “Neck” (Holloway), “Sugar” (Howard), “Pyro” (Martini), as well as the regularly named “Lizzy” (Enos). During a raid on a drug house, they attempt to steal $10 million, but when they go to retrieve the money, it’s missing. Forced to lay low, the team eventually reunites only to start being picked off one-by-one. Local detective Caroline (Williams) and her partner Jackson (Perrineau) come into investigate, and Caroline reluctantly teams up with Breacher to find out who’s murdering his team.

 

The promotional material has sold Sabotage as an all out action movie, whereas it’s really a mystery thriller, and a character-driven one at that. Every character is shady or at least a little shady, including Arnold’s “Breacher” character. You would think that DEA agents that are tasked with talking down cartels or ruining their plans would be professional to some extend but our “heroes” will act out, drink, do drugs and not even worry about taking arrests, they simple kill their targets. This is all a bit odd because at first we are rooting for the team. There is a real camaraderie between them and the banter between them seems real. But once everything goes to hell, they change completely and we as the viewer are left wondering if we should like anyone one of these people.

 

Sabotage is almost unlike anything Arnold’s done before. The first time we see him in this movie he has his head in his hands, sobbing and helpless. Arnold really does commit to it and it’s nice to see him try to do something so different at this stage in his career. But, of course, being Arnold he still appears to be settled comfortably into the role of the grizzled, old soldier who can still kick ass. Which he does here.

 

But, it’s supporting cast that also helps Arnold out in the end. Joe Manganiello and a nearly unrecognizable Sam Worthington play their members who view Arnold’s leader as a surrogate father. Arguably the show-stealer is Mirrelle Enos as Lizzy, the team’s only female member and an ass-kicker in every sense of the term. The only other female cast member in the movie, Olivia Williams, is a no nonsense cop who gets sucked into the teams hell and is a somewhat love interest for “Breacher.”

 

Harold Perrineau as Williams’ partner has some nice banter but doesn’t really do much. Josh Holloway as “Neck” has some memorably lines. But, Terrence Howard is really under-used and you sometimes forget he’s around unless he speaks. They really could have gotten any one else to play the part. But, such is the problem with some ensemble casts. Some are bound to fall in the wayside.

 

The movie also has some few blind-siding plot twists that will probably divide people but they kind of work in the end, although they could have gone a different way to show them. One truly comes out of nowhere and I felt it probably didn’t need to go that way because at the end it didn’t really matter. Still some of twist where nice to see and made the movie different from what it could have been.

 

All in all, Sabotage is more a mystery thriller with action sequences scattered throughout. The movie can get a little clunky in some areas but overall the movie is enjoyable enough and will keep you guessing until the end.

 

Sabotage
3.5 out of 5