Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I'm seeing Suicide Squad for Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie is hot.

Let's get that out of the way at the start.

But let's also discuss what we mean by that.

Yeah, she's physically attractive. But I'm not the type of blogger who lecherously discusses women's appearances, especially as they relate to an inherent interest in watching them perform. I'm also not so naive as to deny that physical appearance plays a role in why you want to watch somebody. It obviously does. But I would never debase the level of discussion on my blog to the point where we're talking about which actresses are physically attractive and which are not.

Really, I mean that Margot Robbie is hot, like Paris Hilton uses the word. She's a hot commodity. There's a general heat around her.

In short, she's got charisma. Great cheekbones and Disney eyes, but more than that, charisma. She's got star power.

And that's why I'll be seeing Suicide Squad in the first few days after its release. Not because I'm starved for superhero movies. Not because I think DC has anything interesting to contribute to the superhero universe these days. Not even because it's one of the last high-profile releases of the summer season.

No, it's because Margot Robbie has oodles of damn charisma, and it looks like she's playing the only character in the movie that I haven't seen somewhere before.

Oh, I'm sure Jared Leto's take on the Joker will be interesting. He's an Oscar winner (as were the previous two who played the Joker, one of them winning for that actual role), and I'm sure he will take great pains to make the character his own. But the Joker has already been played quite memorably by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, so yeah, it's not exactly something brand new.

But I don't know that I can recall a character quite like Harley Quinn hitting the screen before. She's a hot mess of smeared makeup, spiked jewelry, party slut outfits and bloody baseball bats. She feels dangerous, in ways that the men in this movie who have more brute force than she does do not.

And I don't know that I'd feel quite the same if a different actress were playing her. Robbie has just been steadily building her brand and creating a sense of heat around herself that makes her casting as this unique character feel particularly fortuitous.

The weird thing is that I cannot actually point to a number of Robbie movies I've seen that were bonafide hits with me. Many consider The Wolf of Wall Street to have been her breakout, but I didn't like that movie at all (though she was probably good, if memory serves). I also didn't really care for the movie I saw her in earlier this year, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I haven't even seen Focus, her previous collaboration with Suicide Squad's Will Smith, or The Legend of Tarzan, the flop from earlier this summer. In fact, up until a few weeks ago, if you asked me where I was most familiar with Margot Robbie, I'd probably tell you it was from that short-lived TV show Pan Am, the period piece show about airline employees set in the early 1960s that was on the air a couple years ago. That and her two-minute cameo in The Big Short. (She was also in About Time, but I wouldn't have been able to tell you that without IMDB.)

Then a few weeks ago I saw Z for Zachariah, a film in which Robbie does not even seem to have been cast for her looks. Oh, she's an object of desire, the pivot point in a love triangle involving two other men. But you'd have to say her gender has more to do with that than her appearance, as she is, or at least might be, the last woman on earth. They love her because she is their only prospective companion while still remaining heterosexual. Her basic attractiveness shines through, of course -- she's still Margot Robbie -- but she is dressed down and hesitant, a good-hearted hick just trying to survive, not a supermodel or a woman designed to knock men's socks off. She's terrific in this role, putting to rest any notion that her only value to the cinematic world is her appearance.

You can't say appearance doesn't play a role in her casting as Harley Quinn. I mean, this is the type of character about whom nerds fantasize, and in the case of the more attractive or richer nerds, the type of role they can get their girlfriends to assume in cosplay. In fact, if I googled "Harley Quinn cosplay" it would probably return thousands of results.

But what I know is that Robbie's casting won't be just about her appearance. This is a woman who will bring wit and smarts and savvy to the role, and that's why I'll probably be seeing the movie in its first few days.

If there were any doubt about the wit, you have evidence in that terrific Big Short cameo. But I also saw a video in which she explains the meanings of 40 Australian slang terms in four minutes. She's hilarious in it, and also down to earth.

Yeah, she's Australian, so I guess I bring in that bias as well. Then again, just because I live here doesn't mean I automatically stump for actors or actresses from this area. I still haven't really gotten the appeal of Jai Courtney, another Suicide Squad co-star, for example.

Robbie is just hot, and that's something that transcends background and track record. She's got "it." She's got star power. And she's bringing to bear the full force of that star power in Suicide Squad.

And this is a pretty big turnaround for me. For a while, my main perspective on this movie was how annoyed I was about the 18 months of news that has preceded its release. This is one of the first movies I remember being promoted as heavily as it was on Twitter, with director David Ayer constantly tweeting out set photos and strategically parceling out information he believed (correctly) would be picked up and run with as trending topics. Suicide Squad is arriving with perhaps more hype than it has any hope of delivering on.

But at least it's got a pretty good weapon in its arsenal, which might help it deliver.

And she's got a baseball bat.

No comments: