Tag Archives: Jai Courtney

Odd Squad

‘Suicide Squad’ is a crazy, colorful, over-stuffed mess

SUICIDE SQUAD

Suicide Squad
Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis & Jared Leto
Directed by David Ayer
PG-13

The superhero summer gets a jolt of anarchy as a group of “metahuman” oddballs and outlaws commandeer the screen.

Based on obscure characters created by DC Comics, the Suicide Squad is a motley crew of death-row supervillains corralled by the government to combat threats too dangerous or deadly for ordinary defenses—like the “next” Superman, who might not be so people-friendly, or the slinky sorceress (Cara Delevingne) now building a doomsday machine to annihilate humanity—in exchange for lightened sentences.

Think The Dirty Dozen meets Guardians of the Galaxy, with a twist of Ghostbusters.

Will Smith

Will Smith

Will Smith is Deadshot, the world’s most lethal assassin. Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, a psychiatrist turned psycho by her bonkers boyfriend, the Joker (Jared Leto). There’s also Aussie kleptomaniac Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), hulking human reptile Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, buried beneath a ton of rubbery prosthetics) and pyrotechnic homeboy El Diablo (a heavily tattooed Jay Hernandez).

Viola Davis is the iron-fisted black-ops recruiter in charge of the squad. Karen Fukuhara plays Katana, a samurai whose sword contains the souls of everyone its ever slain. Joel Kinnaman is elite soldier Col. Rick Flag, who has a special—though convoluted—tie to the Enchantress, the ancient, newly resurrected witch trying to destroy the world. Even Batman (Ben Affleck) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) drop in for cameos, as if they’ve casually wandered over from another movie.

Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie

Everyone has a backstory and a rockin’ theme song. Harley gets a reworked version of the old Leslie Gore hit “You Don’t Own Me,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s swampy “Fortunate Son” plays for Killer Croc, and as Diablo’s flames flicker in the night sky, we hear War’s “Slippin’ Into Darkness.”

Writer-director David Ayer—who also directed the Brad Pitt WWII tank flick Fury and wrote Training Day, for which Denzel Washington won an Oscar—has a lot on his plate. Ultimately, the huge cast, unwieldy story and muddled, sometimes downright cheesy special effects become just too much—for him, and us—and everything crashes, smashes, mashes and finally collapses into a big, boom-y blob.

Jared Leto

Jared Leto

There are some things, however, to like about Suicide Squad. Leto’s cackling Joker is an unhinged kick; you never know what he’s going to do, how far he’ll go or where. It’s good to see Smith in a semi-supporting role where he can lay back in an ensemble but still unload some great quips. Davis is deliciously ambiguous as a high-ranking agent who’ll do whatever it takes to do a dirty job. Robbie seems to be having fun as the wacko Harley, but her hyper-sexy shorty shorts, fishnet stockings, stiletto boots and smeared baby-doll makeup look like they came from a stripper’s closet—or a fanboy’s heated ComicCon dream—instead of a wacko supervillain’s lair.

In the end, the movie is a hot mess—but a loud, star-packed, proudly trashy one. At one point, Harley and the Joker jump into an industrial vat of paint, then make out, rolling around and laughing like the nut jobs they are in the swirls of blue, red, yellow and green. That’s pretty good snapshot of Suicide Squad as a whole: Stuffed full of everything, including itself, it’s mad, mucky and yucky and doesn’t make a lot of sense—but hey, look at all those crazy colors!

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Robo Reboot

New ‘Terminator’ bangs, bams, crams and slams across the years

Emilia Clark, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jai Courtney

Terminator Genysis

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney and Jason Clarke

Directed by Alan Taylor

PG-13

“I’ll be back,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg promised in the original Terminator, back in 1984. And now Ah-nold, THE Terminator, is indeed back, and he’s the biggest, baddest and best thing in the new reboot of the iconic sci-fi franchise.

That Terminator envisioned a near future in a ruined, post-apocalyptic world run by artificially intelligent machines battled by a hearty group of human resistance fighters. Schwarzenegger was cast in his first blockbuster role as a virtually unstoppable assassin “terminator” sent back in time to kill the mother of the child who would grow up to be John Conner, the fiery leader of the resistance, before he was conceived, ensuring the opposition could never take root.

Three sequels and a TV spinoff played off that premise. And now, 31 years later, Terminator Genysis backs up and takes another run at it.

Emilia Clarke

This time around, rebel leader John Conner (Jason Clarke) zaps his young protégé Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) into the past to intercept and destroy the terminator that’s already there, programmed to kill his mother. British actress Emilia Clarke (dragon mistress Daenerys Taegaryen in TV’s Game of Thrones) does a commendable job as the young firebrand Sarah Connor. But the big bang here is the return of the former two-term governor of California, with a now-familiar terminator twist: Schwarzenegger’s cyborg is Sarah’s guardian, not her killer, protecting her from other terminators.

Characters meet up with themselves coming and going across the decades, in overlapping timelines. At one point, Schwarzenegger’s terminator battles the younger version of himself, thanks to modern-day special effects, right out of a scene from the first movie. Oscar-winning J.K. Simmons plays a police detective who remembers the characters from one of their previous eras.

As they zip back and forth through time, our heroes outrun fireballs, shoot and blast shape-shifting, liquid-silver pursuers, throw around phrases like “mimetic polyalloy” and “decay algorithms,” try to shut down a “cloud”-like operating system that will eventually quash all living things, and eventually dangle over the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge in a hijacked school bus.

Left to right: Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor and Jai Courtney plays Kyle Reese in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

It’s all very complicated and convoluted, a muddled sci-fi haystack of past, present and future that looks even denser and darker—as many movies do—in 3-D. Thank goodness the characters seem to know what they’re doing and where they’re going, because not only did I get lost, I lost my patience trying to sort through all the bangs, bams, crams and slams—and the echoes and clangs of previous Terminator movies ringing in my ears and through the years.

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator in Terminator Genisys from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

For all its motion and commotion, however, nothing can compete with Schwarzenegger’s iconic star power, even when he’s standing still and not saying a word. The 67-year-old actor seems to be having a ball back in the swing and stride of his venerable trademark character. There’s even a running joke about the mileage on his terminator’s odometer. “I’m old, not obsolete,” he says.

Too bad the rest of this time-crunching, overstuffed, underwhelming Terminator installment doesn’t quite feel like it’s aged nearly so gracefully.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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