Apparently dissatisfied with the dismal reception of 2016’s Suicide Squad, DC has bravely decided to vaguely reboot the property with a spot-the-difference name change to The Suicide Squad, probably hoping that this new film will effortlessly send its predecessor down the memory hole. We ask whether it hits that whimsical tone it clearly wants to and discuss imperialism, satire, racism, gazing at males, rats, story structure, excessive volume and more.
What began twenty years ago as a series of car chases and races has since spiralled out of control into an action behemoth encompassing ten films, a TV series, videogames, and theme park attractions. But for the spinoff film Hobbs & Shaw, Fast and Furious 9 is Mike’s introduction to the Fast & Furious series, with José having seen some of the previous instalments, but not all.
We discuss the soap opera storytelling, the way it expresses humour – what it thinks are jokes are really just aggressive, macho posturing – and what it thinks of intelligence, José contending that it represents the worst of American culture in privileging stupidity and making it victorious, with Mike offering a complementary drop of nuance, arguing that it does at least believe that its heroes are smart… but it’s a stupid person’s idea of what being smart is. Core to the film’s failings is its almost complete lack of irony, only the car-turned-space shuttle indicating that the film has any understanding of comedy and how absurd it all is.
There’s no recommending Fast and Furious 9, its shortcomings exposed by the competence of almost every other action blockbuster (even Hobbs & Shaw, which had its own problems, but was a pleasant surprise). On the basis of this, Mike’s curiosity has been sated, and he’s happy to continue avoiding this godforsaken series for the rest of his life.
Trainwreck is hit and miss. But when it hits, it hits big; and it does hit often: I love Amy Schumer, who I’d never heard of before, and who gets at something painful and real through the comedy, which is often laugh-out-loud. The story is as simple as it is questionable: is Amy going to grow up to be a female version of the arsehole father of hers, Gordon (Colin Quinn)– sex mad, liquor-swilling, drug taking, incapable of commitment – or is she going to grow up, like her sister KIm (Brie Larson)?
The ‘growing up’ in this movie takes the form of having Amy fall in love, change her ways, and win the man she’s been so careless with, Aaron (Bill Hader); wealthy, humanitarian and highly-skilled sports surgeon to the rich and famous; and who, to this member of the audience at least, still doesn’t seem worth the bother. Amy’s ‘growing up’ may also be read as a way of clipping her wings, containing her, reducing her to a more traditional, conservative and conformist model of femininity. Her father could be an arsehole and be loveable. For a woman to continue to be the same past Amy’s age is too horrifying a thought for a movie and its audience to contemplate. Both lose out.
But how can we quibble? Most comedies are imperfect, few have as many jokes that hit as big, almost none centre on a woman and even fewer demonstrate a detectable address to a female audience. I loved it.
Lots of sports stars I don’t know make cameos you probably will enjoy more than I. John Cena, the wrestler, is very funny as an early, too-stiff boyfriend with a body of steel, the emotional life of a tween girl and the sexual imaginary of a homosexual weaned on porn. An almost unrecognisable Tilda Swinton makes an unforgettable appearance as a too-tanned, hard-nosed ‘Essex Girl’ editor of a New York lads mag and steals the few scenes she’s in. Fab.