Aug 06 2021

Suicide Squad sequel: 3 stars out of 5, far improved over original

Published by at 12:16 am under Movie Review,Superhero Stories

–There’s intense violence but not a lot of feeling here. It’s not a very exciting movie. But it’s functional. It’s frequently tedious (especially the political sermons), but rarely boring. It’s definitely a huge improvement over the first movie.

–Most of what sucked about Suicide Squad 1 was an overfocus on soulless authority figures. Sidelining Waller and soulless authority types in general was a brilliant move. What I think this movie gets that the first movie completely missed is that Waller is not (and cannot be) a three-dimensional character, she’s JUST a source of insane mission directives and lethal pressure to comply. She’s just a boss out of hell, and asking her to carry the first 45 minutes of the first movie was a mistake only WB could make. The first we see of authority figures in this movie, they’re betting on which Suicide Squaddie will be the first to die. It’s a much more Marvel approach to authority figures. E.g. military jargon is completely gone, nobody sounds remotely like an authority figure is supposed to sound, conflicts are played up, underlings get a lot more freedom to explore the space with Waller’s golf club, etc.

–In the first movie, the second half of the movie is an inordinately long single mission with long rambling intermissions where the characters stop to talk for no readily obvious reason. In this movie, the ENTIRE movie is a long single mission, but much better structured. The transitions between dialogue and combat are smoother.

–Weasel came from the same parent company that brought us Hector Hammond. We’ll later find out that their content-creation algorithms are fueled by human nightmares.

–Things that are more technically sophisticated than Weasel: King Shark, the Geico Gecko, the North Korean ice-dancing team, and Rocket Raccoon. Things that are less technically sophisticated than Weasel: Savant’s wig and Idris Elba’s American accent. Also, when they were casting John Cena, I’m guessing they were hoping his melee fights would look interesting and/or enjoyably fake. Or that his humor would land at all. Guardians of the Galaxy has Dave Bautista, a wrestler with real physical chemistry and comedic timing, and John Cena does not have them here.

–There were a lot of premises dead on arrival. Editing needed work.

  • “What if King Shark was mentally disabled and completely unable to contribute to dialogue in any way?” “Will it be funny?” “Not at all, but Sylvester Stallone really wants an Oscar.”
  • Harlequin gets a wedding proposal from a Che Guevara dictator. “Do we have any plan to go anywhere with this?” “Not at all, do we need one? Nobody said we needed one.” If this seems like it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie, you’re right, but she did vote for Bernie.
  • Waller’s afraid she’s going to look a fool with a Senate friend because she can’t golf. Was zombifying Chicago not bad enough? Are we pretending the first movie never happened? I can live with that. Are we going with 100 Senators being dumb enough to not realize what happened in the first movie? Also workable.
  • Every second with Weasel. Polka-Dot Man has a running gag where he sees other people as his abusive mom. I wish I could see Weasel as Rocket Raccoon instead. I suspect the stand-in actor for Weasel (and also Rocket) does too.
  • “Bloodsport, why are you afraid of rats?” 1) Because useless 2) Because oppressive father figure. The movie tries treating this as a mystery, but it’s okay because we can see #1 and can guess #2.
  • Idris Elba playing a Louisianan child mercenary turned soldier and criminal who has apparently spent 20 years in the British educational system. He actually has sounded American before, I’m not sure what was going on here. He also sounds kinda posh for someone whose father stuck him in a rat-filled crate but I’d rather have that than Vince Vaughn trying to play a ridiculous blue-collar tough guy (also rat-tortured by his abusive father) in True Detective.
  • The team doesn’t have any pre-mission training. Might have been useful to figure out if any of the members had a crushing fear of another teammate’s powers, whoops.
  • The team lead has no control over who goes on the team.This makes sense for Bloodsport (if Waller lets him pick his own people, he might stack the team with people who will betray Waller). But why screw Flagg like this? If Waller doesn’t trust him, either, that probably deserves some explanation which could help develop Flag’s eventual hero moment.

–This is the worst King Shark since Harlequin’s animated series. At least he’s not a social media dork this time. (If anyone had asked Sylvester Stallone to try getting offended by shark stereotypes in like a third of his scenes, Stallone would have shoved a copy of Demolition Man up the director’s caudal fin).

–Villain selection is MUCH better. Almost everybody is shootable, which is a great fit for a team that is mostly shooters and sharks.

—-It’s ridiculous that a power-worshipper like _____ (spoiler removed) could have conflicted feelings about murdering a character as weak as _____ (victim removed). None of these blanks are “social media expert King Shark” or “cowriter Howard Zinn” or “celebrated kabuki choreographer B. McKenzie”, but any combination of these would probably have been more interesting than what we actually saw.

–Communications between Waller and the team are down for most of the movie, so she looks less incompetent that she loses eyes on the team. This is a better execution than in the first movie, where she apparently forgets to keep eyes/ears on her murder-slaves.

–Action choreography not great. Harlequin’s breakout scene is just Harlequin doing her thing with very little interaction or threat from her enemies. Not great. Korean/Japanese/Hong Kong action movies usually get a lot more emotional heft out of melee combat than this.

–Rick Flag, besides *maybe* his hero turn, still does not have any chemistry with anyone.

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