Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad, 2015. Directed by David Ayer.

There’s candy and there’s sour candy. This movie is sour candy.

Set in the aftermath of Batman vs. Superman, the powers that be are forced to wonder what might happen if the next “Superman” who drops by is actually a bad guy. I mean, when your “friends” have proved this dangerous who needs enemies, right? The powers need someone on their side who is capable of fighting super powered people (meta-humans). More they need someone they can control. The plan is: round up some super villains, put bombs in their necks, and trot them out when needed with the promise of time off for good behavior.

If it sounds like a deal with the devil, it is, but the devil isn’t one of the villains. She’s Waller, the brutally ruthless bitch who masterminds and sets the whole team up (Viola Davis is great). She’s also god. She works in mysterious ways, has everyone in her pocket, and is quick to blow the head off the first squad member who tries to assert some independence.

Despite the large cast, Suicide Squad is a “small” story. Apart from some preamble, and subplots relating to the Joker, the squad is popped from prison and dropped a short distance from a deadly threat. They advance toward that threat (basically some mcguffiny mumbo-jumbo) and battle when they get there. Along the way they uncover a lot of deception, realize they’re better off if they rely on each other, and have a few revelations. Like all superhuman battles, the fights quickly become boring and repetitive, but the plot, when viewed through the lens of theme is fine.

The theme is about love, particularly the way one’s love shapes the choices that determine behavior. Harley Quinn loves the Joker to the degree that its become her identity. But when she thinks he’s dead she process it and keeps moving forward. Joker and Deadshot start the story thinking they don’t love anyone. Leto’s perfectly viable Joker discovers an attachment he can’t understand, and Deadshot doesn’t seem to realize that he’d do anything to earn the admiration of his daughter. Love is the weapon Waller uses to control a number of her most powerful assets. Rick Flagg through his love of the doctor cursed to be Enchantress. Deadshot through his daughter. Waller literally holds the heart of Enchantress.

The main relationship however is between Deadshot and Rick Flagg. Deadshot is the definition of loner – he the world’s greatest assassin, recently cut off from his daughter. Rick Flagg is a young special ops veteran put in charge of the squad. As Deadshot realizes they’ve been deceived about the level of the threat, he becomes an emotional mother hen to the squad (Harley Quinn mostly), earns Flagg’s respect, and even begins to mentor him when Flagg is broken by the stress of the larger situation.

I liked it well enough for a superhero movie. I certainly didn’t dislike it (apart from the annoyingly instructive soundtrack), nor was I bored except for the battles which, I think were pretty efficient compared to others in the genre. And I liked how it was fine NOT being epic.