Suicide Squad – When a Train Wreck is Still Amazing

I know just about everyone has seen Suicide Squad. Everyone has strong opinions on this movie. So I’m going to throw my opinion and review into the mix.

Synopsis:

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.

Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.

Excitement Level: Mixed. A part of me was ridiculously excited for this. I love a good anti-hero. Another part of me was super hesitant. I wanted interesting characters and a good story. I was worried that this would be DC’s answer to Deadpool. I know everyone is in love with Deadpool, but it really is not my cup of tea. I do not enjoy crude humor and don’t enjoy violent humor. I am typically ok with violence, so long as there is a point to it. Like in Mad Max. But I am not comfortable or ok with violence becoming a joke. When I found out it wasn’t rated R I decided to give it a chance (I actually wished they had rated it R, but for different reasons than I was worried it would be). I also looked up IMDB parental guide to decide if I would be comfortable watching it or not.

Train Wreck:

The plot is a disaster. Everyone knows this. Here are the two main problems:

1. The Enchantress and her brother are just way too big of villains for the Suicide Squad. Entities so destructive that they cause an entire city on the scale of a New York or Chicago to be evacuated ought to have drawn an actual hero to the scene, like Batman or Flash. I get that Superman is dead and the others tend to be city based, but seriously. This is a huge threat that real heroes would have been drawn in on.
I do get that taking out the Enchantress wasn’t the mission they were assigned. The mission they were assigned was saving Waller at all costs, which yeah, might not have drawn a big superhero. But they were pulled out of their cages before Waller knew that the Enchantress was out of her control. So…
But even if that was their sole purpose in being pulled from their cages, another hero should have been taking care of the Enchantress. So they shouldn’t have needed to “Save the World” as Harley dubbed it.

2. Another issue that we are all well aware of is Deadshot’s weird “Hey, let’s work together and kill Flag” to two minutes later “Harley, if he dies, we all die.”

Unfortunately, neither of these issues were resolved with the new footage from the Extended Cut. But I do have an idea of what they should have done. Obviously, they should have hired me to do editing. But here would be my plan:

Problem 1: They should have never had a villain so big to begin with. But short of re-writing the entire story, they should have cut the scenes so that the rest of the Suicide Squad was not pulled out of their cages and injected until AFTER the Enchantress plan blew up. Then add a few lines of dialogue making it clear that the Squad was NEVER intended to go after the Enchantress, ONLY rescue HBT 1. Could be instigated by one of the SEALS asking if they were being sent to end the “terror” threat (or one of the Squad members complaining about having to end a “terror” threat), to which Flag makes clear that they are going nowhere near the threat, they are JUST a rescue mission, and someone else would be sent for that, but it would take time. But a rescue team needed to be sent ASAP.
This does not completely fix the problem. Only a complete re-write would do that. But it would definately help.

Problem 2: Editing would fix a lot of the problems. However, that editing would also create balance issues. So give and take.
Deadshot needs a motive to change his stance on killing Flag.
The current order of events:

1. Captain Boomerang convinces Slipknot to make a break for it and Slipknot gets his head blown off.
2. Flag threatens Deadshot
3. Deadshot hatches a plan to kill Flag
4. We see attempts at conspiring, and how not well they get along (Extended Footage)
5. Fight with the Enchantress’ army.
6. Flag gets dragged off, Harley is happy because Hey! Now they don’t even need to attack Flag themselves! Except Deadshot points out that if he dies, they all die.
7. Harley steals a purse
8. Flag makes a deal with Deadshot: He keeps the Squad in line, he gets his fresh start (Extended Footage)
9. Flag tells them HBT 1 is at the top of the building, Deadshot asks who they are rescuing, Flag tells him it is none of his business. (EF)
10. Harley has a flashback of trying to convince the Joker to love her (EF)
11. Harley starts psych analyzing, and pissing off, the rest of the Squad. Deadshot asks her to stop. She accuses him of being a rat.
12. Get to the building.

Tex’s Suggested (and Superior) Cut:

1. Captain Boomerang convinces Slipknot to make a break for it and Slipknot gets his head blown off.
2. Flag threatens Deadshot
3. Deadshot hatches a plan to kill Flag. Add in a line about how they have to wait for the right moment.
4. Extended Footage: We see the attempts at conspiring, and how not well they get along.
7. Harley steals a purse
8. Flag makes a deal with Deadshot: He keeps the Squad in line, he gets his fresh start (Extended Footage)
5. Fight with the Enchantress’ army. 
6. Flag gets dragged off, Harley is happy because Hey! Now they don’t even need to attack Flag themselves! Except Deadshot points out that if he dies, they all die.
9. Flag tells them HBT 1 is at the top of the building, Deadshot asks who they are rescuing, Flag tells him it is none of his business. (EF)
10. Harley has a flashback of trying to convince the Joker to love her (EF)
11. Harley starts psych analyzing, and pissing off, the rest of the Squad. Deadshot asks her to stop. She accuses him of being a rat.
12. Get to the building.

Justification for Changes:

Moving Flag and Deadshot’s deal to before the first run in with Enchantress’ Army gives Deadshot a reason to want to defend him. It doesn’t make it perfect. There is still the slight fact that Deadshot didn’t think the bombs in their neck were a problem when he convinced them all to rise up. But at least it gives him a motive to change his mind about it. I would also advocate, among their plans, that a line gets added in that they will need to wait for the right moment. This is important to add in because it now extends the timeline, and it wouldn’t do for the audience to think the characters had forgot about their plan.
The only real problem with my cut would potentially be balance. In an action movie, there has to be a balance between high speed action and slower character development. This might skew that balance to not enough action at the beginning of this sequence, and too much action on the end. But wih the extended footage of Harley’s flashback added, I think it would balance alright. But it would probably not work without the extended footage.

THE CHARACTERS

Characters are the most important part of a movie, in my opinion. I would rather have fascinating characters than a perfect plot, which is why I saw this movie in theaters about 10 times, and bought the Extended Cut as soon as it came out.

Here is my take on the problems with the characters:

Katana – Least Favorite Character. She actually had NO PURPOSE in the movie. I WANTED her to be awesome. I am always on the lookout for girlpower chicks. But she is introduced as being Flag’s bodyguard. And never actually gets a chance to do so. Also, her beckstory stuff came off as annoying angsty, unfortunately.
… Come to think of it though… She would have had more importance, and the original cut would have made more sense… If Katana had been the one to remind Harley that if Flag dies, they all die. Then at least she would be defending Flag by proxy, and Deadshot wouldn’t have had the random change of heart.

Enchantress/Brother – There are a lot of problems with the two of them. They are waaaay too powerful. If she could create an army so easily, why did she need to wait to make her move? She could have created her army to overpower Waller. Also, it really bothers me that she turns people into monsters. She is a Succubus. She Enchants people. It seems to me that her kiss ought to inspire mind control, and people ;become a slave to her will, not physiological change (though I have a feeling that they did that to keep the rating PG-13. It is ok for the Squad to brutally decimate black monsters, not so much humans that bleed.)

Deadshot – Already addressed with his random back and forth of opinion.

Part II – The Amazing

Now that I’ve discussed (and tried to fix) problems, let me discuss what I thought was amazing about the movie.

Characters:

Dr. June Moone – While the Enchantress is a huge problem, I did like what little we saw of June… Which come to think of it was mostly out of her mind fear. She was rightfully terrified of the Enchantress. Most of her lines revolve around “I can’t do that again. Please, don’t make me do this”. She obviously is absolutely terrified, and terrified for herself. Yet she still has the strength to tell the love of her life that if it comes down to it, she is to be sacrificed to take down the Enchantress. True courage shows when we are afraid.

Captain Boomerang – I don’t know why I like him so much. Yet I do. I know his rap sheet says that he has a “fetish for pink unicorns”, like that is just some weird personality quirk. I smell backstory though. It’s gotta be a daughter’s or something similar. By itself it could be. But when Diablo was telling his story about killing his family, the crack in Boomerang’s voice when he asks “and the kids?” makes it sound like there is something personal in his life. I want to know.

Rick Flag  and Deadshot – Flag has a fascinating juxtaposition with Deadshot. Neither of these characters would have been much without each other. Deadshot is the obvious villain: “A serial killer who takes credit cards”. Flag is the obvious hero: “You need real soldiers not these scumbags.” AND YET. Perception of others, and oneself, is a tricky thing. You don’t go into a super-anti-hero movie expecting deep thought to come out of it. But there are important ideas to think about. The thing is, Flag sees himself as the hero and having the moral high ground. He is an American soldier fighting for his country. And looking at himself through that lens, he falls into the trap of believing the ends justify the means, not realizing that this ultimately destroys his moral high ground. He has no problem lying to Deadshot about giving him back has daughter and life. He feels he is in the right, and it’s not like Deadshot is a real person or anything, not like it really matters dangling this man’s daughter like a carrot. And Deadshot believes Flag! Flag doesn’t even stop to realize that only a man who keeps his word and has his own honor would dare believe another man on words alone. Flag definitely has to learn the important lesson that Integrity is blind. You can’t decide to use it when dealing with others you think have it, and turn it off when you think the person you deal with doesn’t matter. Well, I mean you could. But that means you don’t actually have any integrity at all.

Joker and Harley Quinn – Yup, so much is terrible about their relationship. It is abusive and horrible. AND YET. It is so fascinating to watch.

Bonus Thoughts: Jared Leto’s Joker – I know so many people hate him. I love him. I truly do. Is he better than Heath Ledger? No, he is different. AND THAT IS OK. While I don’t profess to read comics, I do know that, at least in video, the Joker is very different in each. And yet still the Joker. Leto’s is different than anything yet (though definite hints of others), and his acting was flawless. I don’t think it was overdone. In fact, I’m not entirely sure it is possible to overdo the Joker. A true crime would be under-doing him, and making him just a bad guy.
On another note, I think I have identified a key component in this Joker (if not Joker in general). I’m sure this is hardly new to comic book buffs. But it seems to me that (this Joker in general) is defined by zero impulse control. Joker is brilliant and powerful. He can put together flawless jobs. But if he randomly has the impulse to use a water gun instead of a real one, he can’t stop himself from doing it. Another man expresses interest in his girl he is curious to see how far that man will take it. If he gets offended the man says no (no matter for what reason), he can’t stop himself from punishing/killing that man. He devises a plan to get rid of the crazy chick obsessed with him. But there is a small part of him that regrets it and realizes he loves her (imma use that term loosely), he cannot stop himself from saving her. No impulse control. Fascinating.

IN CONCLUSION – There is so much that is wrong with this storyline. And yet I love this movie. Because the characters are so dang fascinating, and SO WELL ACTED. Oh, and an awesome soundtrack.

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Burnt – Emotions. Friends. Enemies. Kitchen. Emotions Again. Burn em all.

Burnt — I know the movie came out a long time ago. But I am such a terrible procrastinator. I may never make it as a critic, because I can’t be timely about anything. But hey, we are well past the age that if you don’t see it in theaters you will never have a chance to see it again. And I don’t want to be stuck reviewing only new releases anyways. If there is a movie I think worth watching, even if it is 10 years old, I might review it.

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) was once a top chef in Paris until drugs and alcohol led to a meltdown that put his career on hold. After moving from New Orleans to London, Adam gets a shot at redemption when his former maitre d’ (Daniel Brühl) reluctantly hires him as the head chef of his fine-dining restaurant. Demanding perfection from his newly formed staff (Sienna Miller, Omar Sy), the acerbic and temperamental Jones gets a second chance to fulfill his dream of earning a third Michelin star.

Initial Excitement Level: Moderate-Low

Rating: R, for language throughout
Truthfully, I just wanted to watch a movie, and didn’t want to rewatch anything. I have mixed feelings about Bradley Cooper. He has been an acquired taste for me. The first two movies I saw him in were Valentines Day and Limitless, and he was such a sleaze-bag in both of them that my mind decided that he was a sleaze-bag himself (same reason I have a hard time with Amanda Seyfried, after seeing her as the dumb blond in Mean Girls). But overall, I only ever go to the movies with an open mind and ready to be entertained.

And it was amazing. Several of us sitting in the audience actually stopped and talked about how good it was in the hall. We did not know each other. We just needed to express our feelings right then.

BUT

Here is the thing. It gets horrible reviews online. 27% Rotten Tomatoes. 2 out of 5 stars. I have long since accepted that I am easier to please than most critics Or maybe I just look for and place emphasis on differentt things. All I can tell you is what I think and why. But be warned, the normal critics disagree.
Review

It starts in an interesting place. Adam Jones (the main character) has already burned every bridge in his life. And he has already a long way into overcoming his drug addictions. While there are mentions of his messed up past throughout the whole movie, we never see it. No flashbacks or anything. Which I think is a great storytelling decision. There are a lot of movies where we see both the destruction and the redemption process. But this story didn’t need it. Instead we start with him trying to not quite repair his dreams, but redo them. And instead of starting fresh, he pulls together his kitchen staff from the people he burned before and some undiscovered talent, using a combination of coercion, bribery, and slinging a thin rope across a the canyon he burned hhis bridges over. Needless to say, it is a precarious and volatile situation. 

And while I know nothing about how a kitchen works, If the show is any indication, it’s can be a precarious and volatile place as well.

They set the stage to explode. And it kind of does. Multiple times. And in ways that completely blindside you. In fact, the audience gasped out loud in several places. 
Overall the themes of love and hate, friendship, betrayal, revenge, passion, and discovering true redemption make this a drama that kept and held my utmost attention and shocked me more than a few times. And it is so well told. It is nice to have the director and writers assume that the audience is intelligent enough to connect the dots and make inferences about the story without having to be explicitly told everything. Mundane details are better left to the imagination than being hashed out.
Characters: 2/3

Acting: 2/3

Drama: 3/3

Importance: 2/3

Humor: 1/1

Storytelling. 3/3

Score – 13/16