Movie Reviews: ‘The Suicide Squad’ Brings Enough Fun And Absurd Action To Be Silly And Serious At The Same Time


THE SUICIDE SQUAD: 3 ½ STARS

The difference between the 2017 movie “Suicide Squad” starring Will Smith and this weekend’s sequel, “The Suicide Squad,” goes far beyond adding the definite article to the title. I accused the first film of “trying to echo the very films to which it should be an antidote.” You know, the big, self-centered superhero blockbusters that forgot to unwrap the fun with the story.

“The Suicide Squad,” now playing in theaters, has some social commentary, but it doesn’t forget the fun. Or violence, daddy’s problems, or the anthropomorphic weasel.

There’s a lot going on in “The Suicide Squad”.

At the start of the 132-minute non-stop roller coaster ride, cold-blooded civil servant Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) offers a deal to a selection of the world’s worst criminals. Join Task Force X, aka Suicide Squad, is working for her and, in return, will reduce their sentences at the infamous Belle Reve prison. However, if you stray away from work, a chip inserted at the base of their skull will explode, ending the mission forever.

Signing up for Corto Maltese’s mission to invade the (fictional) South American republic and steal and destroy a piece of alien technology from evil scientist The Thinker (Peter Capaldi), are a motley team of villains.

There is the Bloodsport assassin (Idris Elba), the patriotic vigilante Peacemaker (John Cena) who will kill anything or anyone in the name of peace, the neurotic “the experiment has gone wrong” Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), the dumb-as-a-fish-human hybrid strain Prince Nanaue (Sylvester Stallone), the rodent-loving thief Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), mad criminal and former psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Field Manager Rick Flag (Joël Kinnaman).

Add to that TDK (Nathan Fillion), Weasel (Sean Gunn), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), Javelin (Flula Borg), Mongal (Mayling Ng) and Savant (Michael Rooker), and you have a dysfunctional “Brady Bunch” accused of save the world, if a giant, telepathic alien starfish doesn’t get them first.

“The Suicide Squad” has many of the same characteristics as a Marvel movie. The world is at stake, there is an alien life form causing trouble, there are villains and a team of aliens with special skills that fight back. They may look alike on paper and share blockbuster budgets, but DCEU’s “The Suicide Squad” is more seedy; a sister of another gentleman.

The killings are spongier and bloodier than anything seen in “The Avengers”. The sense of humor is more youthful than “Thor: Ragnarok” and you’re unlikely to find a cute rat with a backpack in “Black Widow”.

James Gunn hasn’t forgotten his schlocky Troma Films roots. His resume includes a screenwriting credit for “Tromeo and Juliet” and “The Suicide Squad” pays homage to “The Toxic Avenger”. This sensibility helps define the most memorable elements of the new Squad movie, but Gunn also tempers the gross things with some sweetness and not-so-subtle social commentary.

When the characters are not on the move, kicking, pulling, punching, digging, or stabbing, they often engage in character work, explaining how and why life prompted them to join this. unorthodox team. The stories are dysfunctional – being trapped in a box with live, hungry rats is the business of nightmares – but they create a bond between the team that is unexpected in a movie that, at the start anyway, values ​​brutality more. than empathy.

Questions of US foreign policy and military integrity are embedded in the story of an invasion of another country. Casting the likable John Cena as Peacemaker, a “hero” willing to do anything to protect his perceived ideology, is subversively brilliant. When a squad member growls, “Peacemaker… what a joke,” the line drips with meaning.

But don’t imagine that “The Suicide Squad” fell prey to the weaknesses of the serious 2017 version. Gunn brings in enough fun and absurd action to make the sound overload of the second kick of the can both ridiculous and serious at the same time.

LORELEI: 3 ½ STARS

Lorelei

A rocky second chance story, “Lorelei”, starring Jena Malone and Pablo Schreiber and now on VOD, draws high performances from its veterans.

Schreiber plays Wayland, a biker fresh out of prison after fifteen years for armed robbery. He has kept his mouth shut, has not involved any of his brothers, and is warmly welcomed back into the fold. But the next day, when he reunites with Lola (Malone), his childhood sweetheart, he sees a way out of his old life.

They reconnect over a drink and soon Wayland moves in with Lola and her three children, Demin (Parker Pascoe-Sheppard), Dodger (Chancellor Perry) and Periwinkle (Amelia Borgerding), all named after different shades of blue.

“Time flies,” she said. “Not in prison,” he replies.

His readjustment to civilian life is difficult, despite his best efforts to keep a job and raise Lola’s children.

Money is tight and the lure of her old ways is looming and as tensions rise at home, Lola tries to fulfill a dream they had when they were young. Before prison. Before the children. Before the vagaries of life.

“Lorelei” could easily have fallen into stereotypes, but director Sabrina Doyle eschews poverty pornography to provide an authentic portrayal of people struggling to keep their heads above water. The whole movie simmers, threatening to spill over at any point, but Malone and Schreiber’s chaotic chemistry keeps the relationship interesting. To complete the picture, very strong performances from the children, all newcomers, are the best reason for the film to care about the action on the screen. Issues of gender and race identity in children are handled sensitively and realistically.

“Lorelei” was produced by the folks behind “The Florida Project”, Another Slice of Life, Full of Struggle and Conflict. Like that Oscar-nominated film, it goes from pragmatism to whimsy in the third act, closing the rugged Second Chances story with an endearing ending.

TWELVE MIGHTY ORPHANS: 3 STARS

12 powerful orphans

Inspired by real events, “Twelve Mighty Orphans”, a new historical sports drama starring Luke Wilson, and now playing in theaters, reunites Martin Sheen with his “Apocalypse Now” co-star Robert Duvall.

Set during the Great Depression, the story revolves around the hero and citizen of World War I, Rusty Russell (Wilson), a math and science professor assigned to teach orphans at the Masonic House of Fort Worth, in Texas. Students are exploited, forced into manual labor and beaten when they think outside the box, and even when they don’t. In an effort to build character and foster a sense of self-worth in the boys, Russell forms a football team, even though they don’t have balls or shoes.

“We have two seasons,” says Doc Hall (Sheen). “One without shoes and one with shoes. It’s the season without shoes.

A cut or two later, Russell seems to be making progress with the underdog team, but not everyone is happy with it.

“Every second they’re out in the field, we’re losing money,” says Frank Wynn (Wayne Knight), the chef de mission who mistreats boys.

According to Doc, their early practices are more like “Arthur Murray’s dance class” than organized sport, but soon the team comes together. Named the Mighty Mites, they employ innovative new strategies that set them up for success and ultimately to be an inspiration to a nation in need of heroes.

“You have to adapt if you want to be competitive,” says Russell. “We don’t have the size, so we have to use what we have. “

“Twelve Mighty Orphans” is a feel-good film that’s light on surprises, but rich in inspiration. It’s predictable and old-fashioned, but it definitely has its heart in the right place: right up its sleeve. Great performances from Wilson, Sheen (who seems to have the most fun on set) and Duvall, as the team’s financier, help set the emotional tone for the film.

You’ll love the team, and the movie, too, even if you can barely see through the snaps.

STILLWATER: 3 STARS

Still water

Matt Damon’s new film, “Stillwater,” currently in theaters, uses the story bones of American exchange student Amanda Knox as a starting point to tell the story of a father determined to prove the innocence of his daughter.

Damon embraces the role of Oklahoma oil rigger Bill Baker, a MAGA man whose wrap-around sunglasses are almost a character in their own right. He’s rough ‘n’ tumble, prays before every meal and spends every penny he earns to visit his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) in prison in Marseille, France. She is serving a nine-year sentence for the murder of her lover; a crime she says she did not commit.

Allison usually treats him casually – he wasn’t often there when she was a kid, and when he was he was drunk – but this time it’s different. She hands him a letter, written in French, which he does not understand, with new evidence that she hopes to exonerate him.

When their Marseille lawyer informs Bill of the letter and the new information is not enough to get a new trial, he launches his own investigation. As a translator, Virginie (Camille Cottin), who, with her young daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvad), helps her find her way in Marseille and offer what is closest to a family he knows from his daughter’s prison.

“Refugees, zero waste,” said Virginia’s friend to Bill, “this is your new cause.

“Stillwater” is two-thirds of a good movie. The screenplay, co-written by director Tom McCarthy with Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré, oscillates between the different screenplays.

During the first hour or so of the film, the story leans toward Allison, Bill’s awkward investigation of the new evidence, and his burgeoning relationship with Virginia and Maya. But just as the story should heat up and head into thriller territory, McCarthy suddenly pulls away from Allison’s predicament. Abruptly, “Stillwater” is more interested in a character study presentation of Bill, a man of few words and even less motivation. Damon is irresistibly watchable in the role, giving Bill a deep inner life that isn’t always apparent on the surface – I guess the still waters are really deep – but the movie feels distracted by the diversion.

“Stillwater” is beautifully shot and the father-daughter relationship that develops between Bill and Maya is touching and genuine, but is disappointed in the film’s final act.


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