E/N: DC’s Suicide Squad has caused quite a stir among lovers and haters of it and Nouse delivers opposing sides with two short takes on the film. We posted the positive take earlier in the week. Here’s the less positive one.
“Do you not know I am a woman? When I think I must speak!”
A few days ago, I went to see a performance of Richard III, and since I was heading to the cinema anyway, I thought I might as well add some more anti-heroes to my evening by watching Suicide Squad. Although it is impossible to imagine David Ayer purposely referenced Shakespeare’s works with his latest film, a film told “As You Like It” is exactly what DC promised to give us with Suicide Squad. Not only did the multiple trailers boast of a great and expensive musical selection for its soundtrack, Hollywood star-spangled banter amongst our new favourite anti-heroes, but most importantly, the first ever live-action rendition of nerds’ favourite quirky psycho-killer, Harley Quinn.
To be honest, all my hopes for this film were founded on this sychologist-turned-psychopath, since I have been a fan of her antics for some time. In fact, the film’s rather insistent but not all-together bad promo-team nearly convinced me to buy her “Property of the Joker” jacket even before the film had come out; I giggled at its seemingly humourous undertone.
However, as of Harley’s introduction, this film made me incredibly uncomfortable. I think it is safe to say that Ayer does not understand women or their emancipation, at all. The original Harley won herself a place in DC comics after her inception on the popular Batman: the Animated Series, and has had a triving career as a member of many a band of brothers (and sisters) such as the Gotham City Sirens and indeed, versions of the Suicide Squad. She is a troubled soul, whose obsessive love for her bad-boy boyfriend is not her sole redeeming quality, but marks her as a devoted side-kick who can also kick ass. Margot Robbie, on the other hand, has been damned to play a walking sex doll. Her jacket is not at all a humourous take on her distructive relationship with the Joker, but his marking teritory. Between all the boob- and butt- shots, licking jail bars, casually bending down, and repetitive walking-away “shakin’ tha booty” moments, she barely has the time to be, well, Harley Quinn. I half expected her to lick her hammer and do Miley Cyrus proud.
The scriptwriter went out of his way to constantly remind spectators that women aren’t normally this strong, cannot take a punch, or indeed, be a bad-ass without a man to first confirm that she is indeed a bad-ass. Don’t justify knocking a guard out by saying “she had a mouth on her,” we heard her insult you, Slipknot. Indeed, Deadshot, you should not “care that she is a girl” since she is in fact more of a bad-ass than you are, and no, we don’t need your word on it to believe it. Amanda Waller, because she doesn’t have a dysfunctional boyfriend or a soldier force-fed to her by the narrative, must necessarily be a loose cannon. “No, I was talking to her” Will Smith jokes, having just filled a minute with spouted his demands for the american government into Rick Flag’s face, while he addresses Waller, not only his superior in rang, but the actual director of A.R.G.U.S and standing right there next to him, simply with “Sweetie.”
It seems the filmmakers really were convinced their audiences were absolute idiots, as the screenplay has apparently not left its conceptual stage. Much of dialogue as well a Rick Flag’s character seem to solely exist for exposition: interestingly, the two times his expository ass needed to be saved were so singularly identical that it seems like the editors just used reshoots to emphasize his importance the plot, just in case we missed that memo the first time. The sorely missed Capture the Flag jokes only emphasize that even wit in this film needs guidance, but unfortunately, Ayer has not included that live-studio audience to give the cues. Explaining that you or your team are bad guys and a super tight squad at least twelve times, does not necessarily make you a ‘bad guy,’ nor your group of highly skilled (professional) nutcases any chummier with each other. Indeed, there are so many things spectators just needed to accept without any explanation at all. Gotham’s biggest threat, the Joker, is hanging around town a little bit, casually pining for a girlfriend he just casually leaves behind whenever he feels like it; when human relationships are already convenient for the narrative, there is no need for chemistry, anyway; and people you’ve rejected and have tried to avoid the whole three-quarters film, can suddenly become your surrogate family, if you just exclaim it loudly enough.
To say the least, I left the cinema feeling quite disillusioned, having expected far, far more from a film this well advertised. David Ayer seems to have stuck a little too much to Renaissance conceptions of both expository performance and womanhood. Yet, had he actually studied Richard III, his anti-heroes might not have become so two-dimensional.