Suicide Squad – A Review


Where have you gone, Christopher Nolan? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

There was a time in the not too distant past where DC movies used to be the benchmark for comic book adaptations. While the Dark Knight movies of Nolan were enjoying critical and box office success, Marvel was stumbling a bit with films like Daredevil and multiple attempts at The Hulk. It wasn’t until Marvel made Iron Man and started building the Marvel Cinematic Universe that the fortunes of the two companies flipped. Now Marvel movies are almost too big to fail and DC movies….well, DC movies are generally judged on a sliding scale of awful to unwatchable. I mean, I am a person who has seen just about every superhero movie that has been released in the last 15 years, yet I couldn’t even bring myself to watch Batman v Superman. And I love Ben Affleck.

I personally blame Zack Snyder for this turn of events, as pretty much everything that Snyder touches goes to shit. He set the template for the modern DC Universe with the terrible Man of Steel and he continues to fail upward; rather than rethinking how they are approaching these films, DC continues to reward Snyder by keeping him not only gainfully employed but as the de facto architect of their cinematic universe. Though Snyder didn’t direct Suicide Squad (though he did direct one scene), his fingerprints are all over it. That is never a good thing.

Given how loud the bang of the drum has been about the awfulness of Suicide Squad, the biggest surprise was that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Don’t misinterpret that as me saying that Suicide Squad is good – it most certainly is not – but rather that I didn’t hate it as much as expected. There’s something to be said for the power of bottom basement expectations; the fact that I didn’t want to walk out of the theater somehow is a win for the movie.

The bare bones plot for Suicide Squad is relatively straightforward – with something of a power vacuum created by the events at the end of Batman v Superman (which came as news to me), intelligence operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis – who deserves better) decides to assemble a team of dangerous criminals to send out on high-risk missions. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Corc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Slipknot (Adam Beach) are all recruited, as well as good guy Katana (Karen Fukuhara). In order to force compliance, each criminal has a small explosive implanted on them, which can be remotely detonated.  The squad is sent out under the leadership of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to try and reign in The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), who is trying to…honestly it doesn’t even matter. And The Joker (Jared Leto) is floating around the periphery of all this, trying to rescue his lady love Quinn, who he suddenly has an interest in reuniting with. The less you think about any of this, the happier you will be.

Suicide Squad stumbles almost right out of the gate because of the self-created predicament that the writers find themselves in. Part of what makes the MCU work so well is that we get to know the individual characters through their solo movie outings. We understand their personalities, their failings and basically what makes them tick. Hell, even Hawkeye has an interesting backstory. Therefore, when they all come together, it just works because we’ve already spent so much time with these people; what made Captain America: Civil War so great was that it was the payoff of years of groundwork laid down by the previous movies. There can be shades of grey because we understand who these people are. Suicide Squad has none of that history so it has to introduce and establish almost a dozen new characters within the first fifteen minutes of the movie. It’s dizzying and it doesn’t work at all – only a few of the characters manage to rise above the noise to come anything close to a well-rounded character using the most generous definition possible. Even the characters that they spend the most time trying to flush out are problematic; it’s not a good sign when I have no idea if Amanda Waller is a good guy or not. I’m all for complicated people, but even though she gets some of the most screen time in the film, I couldn’t tell you what she’s really trying to accomplish. Had the title not already been used, this movie should have been called The Expendables because I really didn’t give a hoot what happened to pretty much everyone involved. Suicide Squad decided to cut the difference – in theory, the movie is trying to do too much, so their compromise is to do everything pretty poorly. The result is a lot of inconsistencies and a plot that makes little to no sense. The post-credits scene only exasperates this problem; in attempting to lay the groundwork for Justice League, the basic premise of Suicide Squad is kind of called into question. Like, if you know that you have all these potential good guys floating around, why exactly are we trifling with trying to make bad guys do what we want? Batman is a thing that exists in this universe – he’s even in the goddam movie briefly – why aren’t we just throwing up the bat signal rather than forcing these wackos to go against their nature?


The only actors that are able to make any sort of impression are Margot Robbie and Will Smith. Perhaps the best thing about Suicide Squad is Robbie’s Harley Quinn. The character is a little one note on paper, but Robbie manages to have fun with it and the movie is its most interesting whenever she’s on the screen. She’s the breakout star of this whole mess. Smith also manages to give Deadshot some interesting moments. You get the occasional glimpse of the charming movie star that Will Smith is known as, but even he can only rise up so much from the crap material that he’s been given. Smith and Robbie are the only two that are really given a fighting chance to do something interesting. The rest of the characters are so one dimensional that they barely even registered (an Australian guy named Captain Boomerang – I mean, c’mon!). Joel Kinnaman is a good actor in the right circumstances, but he’s saddled with such a ridiculous arc that there was little that he could do. Walller manipulates him into a relationship with Dr. June Moone – the person who The Enchantress inhabits – because……you’re guess is really as good as mine.

Much has been made of the fact that the ad campaign for Suicide Squad to the contrary, The Joker is really a minor character that has little screen time. I’m not all that sure that is a bad thing, because I wasn’t necessarily buying what Jared Leto is selling. Maybe it was the limited sample size of his presence, but it seemed like that dude was chewing the scenery like his life depended on it. Now, The Joker has always been an over the top, larger than life character, but Leto’s interpretation just didn’t work for me. His presence is really a symptom of Suicide Squad’s inability to focus; he was a rabbit hole that the writers decided to go down I’m guessing hypothetically to flush out Harley Quinn’s character, but instead just interrupted the narrative flow (in as much it existed) every time he popped up. It hardly seems worth the rest of the cast putting up with his method acting shenanigans on set for what he ultimately brought to the table. The rumors of Suicide Squad being reshot to try and capture the success of Deadpool appear to be false, since there are barely any (intentional) laughs to be found.

DC has proven that they can cut a great trailer, but they are stubbornly committed to this crappy trajectory for their movies as laid out by Zack Snyder. I was holding out hope that perhaps the upcoming Wonder Woman would break the pattern, but for now I think I’ve officially given up on Warner Brothers doing anything of interest with the DC adaptations. I mean, I’ll see anything that features Aquaman because hello Jason Momoa, but I’m solely in it for the eye candy. Suicide Squad is the perfect encapsulation of everything that is wrong with the current mindset behind these films. They are sloppy, messy, dumb, and not even fun to watch. Margot Robbie is fun to watch, but the rest of this cast really deserved better. When the bar for success is that Suicide Squad didn’t make me want to kill myself, that’s just a sad state of affairs.

Do You Know Who I Am?

When I was in college, I used to get mistaken a lot for my good friend Brigette. The pledges in our sorority especially seemed to have a hard time with this and would often greet me by the wrong name, which I generally let go because they had enough to worry about. But enough other people made the error that I couldn’t just chalk it up to the stress of pledging. I personally don’t think that we look that much alike, but there are some similarities (we occasionally get mistaken for sisters as well) and we were together all the time so I guess that is what led to the occasional case of mistaken identity. I did note, however, that no one ever seemed to call her Heather, which led me to wonder if people knew that I even existed as a separate entity.

This isn’t a problem just for us common folk; celebrities are also occasionally mistaken for other celebrities. Despite the fact that many of these people live their lives constantly being photographed and having their images up on the big screen or on the television in your home, errors are still made. Ellen DeGeneres recently mistook singer Pink’s husband Cory Hart for Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker:


Monday, entertainment reporter Sam Rubin was interviewing Samuel L. Jackson and referenced the actor’s recent Super Bowl commercial. The problem? That wasn’t Jackson – it was actor Laurence Fishburne. And believe me, Samuel L. Jackson ain’t got time for that kind of mix up:


Boom! You, sir, have been served.

This got me thinking about other celebrities that are often mistaken for each other and I realized it happens a lot more than I would have thought. I’m so immersed in pop culture that I’d like to think that I am better at this than most people, but I have to admit that there are celebrities that I often confuse as well. Sometimes it is because they look similar and other times it is because they have very similar names. Whatever the reason, these celebrities find themselves with a case of mistaken identity.

Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman


I can understand the confusion on this one – they both have a similar name, a similar appearance and they tend to take similar roles. I thought that I had a better grasp on these two until I took this quiz and realized that I was guessing on a lot of them. So I’m just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to this mix-up

Chris Pine and Chris Evans


I may be the only person who gets these guys confused, which is a total rookie mistake on my part. I really should know better. But there was a brief period of time where I was very impressed that one actor was both Captain America AND Captain Kirk, though I thought that was going to be problematic for scheduling. It was only when I really sat down and really thought about it that I realized that those were two totally different people that I had conflated into one franchise-helming machine. I do think that both actors look similar in a generic leading man sort of way.

Nick Nolte and Gary Busey


This isn’t one that I have a problem with, but I can see how these two actors could be mistaken for one another, especially when they were younger. As they have aged, their physical similarity has become far less pronounced and Busey has evolved to clearly be the crazier of the two.

Jamie Pressly and Margot Robbie


When I saw Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street, I had this nagging feeling that I knew her from something else. Having not watched her television series Pan Am, I wasn’t sure where this feeling of déjà vu was coming from until I saw the above pictures of Robbie and actress Jamie Pressly. The resemblance is startling. I don’t know that I would ever confuse them on screen, but man do they look alike.

Honorable mention: These two actors looks absolutely nothing alike, but I often confuse when I am talking about them are Colin Firth and Colin Farrell. I routinely say the wrong name, which is very confusing to the person that I am talking to since in my head I know exactly who I am referring to, while my audience only has what I am actually saying to go on. In fact, I just made this error yesterday when talking about the new film Winter’s Tale; I am fully aware that this film stars Colin Farrell, but of course I said Colin Firth and had to go back and correct myself. I can’t seem to help myself.

What celebrities do you always mix up? What famous doppelgangers have I missed? Sound off in the comment below.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Kick off the Weekend Edition

Some technical difficulties and a wonky schedule this week mean that you are getting your pop culture roundup a few days late. Apologies to anyone who was disappointed, but I tried to make it up to you with an extra-long batch of links. With Sundance, The Television Critics Association winter meeting and awards season all happening at the same time, there was no shortage of news to report. This is actually the condensed version of links! So while most of the country is in a deep freeze, grab a blanket and stay inside all weekend pouring through the last 2+ weeks in the world of pop!

  • Last night was Adam Scott’s final installment in his The Greatest Event in Television History specials. They ended with a bang, with Scott and Paul Rudd recreating the opening credits to Bosom Buddies:

I will miss these.

  • HBO has passed on the Sarah Silverman pilot, People in New Jersey. Boo!


  • As someone who regularly hangs out with our interns at the office, this Conan bit made me literally laugh out loud:


  • Adrian Grenier was almost Dawson on Dawson’s Creek. I didn’t think it was possible to make that character more awful, but that would have done it. #Pacey4Life
  • This will make some people I know happy – the first photo from Dumb and Dumber To:


  • Bam! Pow! The original Batman TV series with Adam West is finally coming to home video. So. Much.Kitsch.

Now for some news on the Super Bowl:

  • The Full House guys are reuniting for a yogurt commercial:


  • Good news for the Bronies out there – the Bronytunes app allows you to stream 7,000 different songs about My Little Pony.
  • One Direction will appear on the show:


  • This is kind of cool – watch Quentin Tarantino and Steve Buscemi rehearse Reservoir Dogs:


  • The first poster for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I have been released (and it doesn’t look much different than the poster for the previous two films):




  • One of the stars of Shipping Wars has died.
  • Watch a one armed teen scare The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus:



  • A teaser trailer for FX’s The Strain:


  • I bailed after J.R. died, but here’s a trailer for the 3rd season of the new Dallas:


  • A new trailer for The LEGO Movie, which I really want to see:


  • Chloe Sevingny’s new show, Those Who Kill:


  • James Franco’s Child of God:


  • Showtime’s new creepy thriller, Penny Dreadful:


  • A very Syracuse-y trailer for Adult World, starring Emma Roberts and John Cusack


  • A new prom for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:


  • I did far better than I expected on this SNL quiz, thanks to some catchphrases from the 90s.
  • Just because, here’s a photo of Tupac and Suge Knight playing Sonic the Hedgehog:


As always, we end with the mashups and the supercuts:

The film Her seems to have inspired a lot of parodies:

  • A trailer for Him:


  • Her starring Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones:


  • If you ever wondered what Game of Thrones would look like if it was set in ancient Japan (and who hasn’t?), wonder no longer.
  • As a fan of independent films, this parody trailer made me giggle:


  • Mean Girls by cats:


  • A supercut of every Nintendo start screen….ahh memories:


  • A hipster remake of American Psycho:


  • Donald Glover’s last episode of Community was last night; here’s a Childish Gambino/Community mashup to help ease the pain:


  • It was only a matter of time- someone mashed up Haim’s “The Wire” with footage from The Wire :


  • Watch a supercut of “Let It Go” in 25 different languages:


  • Teen Wolf of Wall Street:


  • A supercut of Larry David’s best insults:


  • And finally…The Facts of Life/Breaking Bad mashup you didn’t even know you needed:


Have a great weekend!!!