Harley Quinn and crew spook a terrific “Suicide Squad” trailer

The Suicide Squad trailer, released at Comic-Con yesterday, does what all first-look reels should but does it better than most of its comic book adaptation counterparts. It conveys a feeling equal parts strange, spooky and unsettling that leaves me thirsting for more. Yesterday I wouldn’t have known the film’s release date better than any other that’s a year away. Today I can pinpoint its Aug. 5, 2015, release date because I’m still re-watching it.

I don’t pay too much attention to movie trailers besides the ones that soak up commercial breaks and fill the previews at the theater. To gauge how good this one is, I watched two others — Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman v. Superman — neither of which held up. Avengers did what I expected it to do, explosions, end of the world stuff, and while Batman v. Superman, which was also released at Comic-Con, was good, it’s brief character portrayals couldn’t match what I got out of Suicide Squad.

It was the haunting lullaby overlaying the calm, almost slow motion-esque, footage, peppered with dynamite character portraits and quoted blips that felt important that made the Suicide Squad teaser so special. Why not just break it all down? Shall we?

The big takeaway

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I don’t read comics. I don’t know the Suicide Squad framework. I didn’t have a reason to see the film until now. It’s Harley Quinn, as played by Margot Robbie. From this small sample size, it looks like Robbie’s performance as Quinn will be one of the iconic portrayals brought to life when it’s all said and done. I hate to draw comparison’s to Heath Ledger’s The Joker from The Dark Knight, famously his posthumous Academy Award, but Robbie, already established as a beyond-tremendous actress, has a chance to do it.

The industry is overflowing with comic book movies and actresses playing those lead female characters. For all we know, it’s an easy gig — see any of the performances in the Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Avengers film franchises — but rarely have we seen an actress transform. For Harley Quinn, it looks like Robbie really went for it.

Her character is painted with such precision in the trailer.

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Moments before this pictured scene, we see Quinn make an aggressive biting motion, an example of maybe one of her many quirks and natural gestures. In the clip that’s pictured, however, we get to really here her voice. It sounds excellent — a rugged, almost battered, cackle that’s worn out.

There are other examples in “Are you the devil?” (1:23) and “You’re in so much trouble.” (2:14), a sample of two different tones of voice.

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On the simplest level, it’s fascinating to see the character brought to life. It’s with so much confidence that Quinn struts in those incredible heels, holding her bat across the back of her shoulders. She’s so colorful, so rugged — the makings of a character who can leave an imprint on the genre.

A glimpse into story

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One of my biggest appreciations for the way this teaser was drafted is how well it outlines the story. As I said, I had no clue what it was all about. After watching it, I’m well informed; at least, enough to be interested.

In this picture scene, Amanda Waller, played by Viola Davis, is laying out the plot to How to Get Away With Murder — I mean, explaining her plans for creating a suicide squad, a term later used by Will Smith’s Deadshot.

Waller has captured this group of bad — the worst — criminals and “Let’s just say I put them in a hole and threw away the hole.” She plans to use them for good. If they stray, marring her reputation, the squad make easy scape goats.

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As Deadshot summarizes later in the trailer, “We’re the patsies.”

The strangeness of it

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I think it’s really interesting how Waller has everyone caged, Quinn specifically. Pictured, she’s locked in a cage-within-a-cage, and she hangs in a very acrobatic fashion, whether by her own doing or not. Some clips elsewhere suggest she’s rigged the Cirque Du Soleil show herself. What the image does for people like me, who have no frame of reference for the storyline, is portray the danger and elusiveness of the characters.

And then there’s the Joker

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This is the kicker on the whole thing. The Joker, played by another excellent actor, Jared Leto, doesn’t show up until the final 10-20 seconds of the trailer, but he does a lot with his time. It was all leading up to his moment on the screen.

“Oh, I’m not gonna kill ya,” he says, in the same Joker voice that resonates with everyone. “I’m just gonna hurt ya — really, really bad.”

David Ayer’s film releases Aug. 5, 2016. See the trailer for yourself.

 

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