Although I'm not a comic book aficionado, I've really enjoyed most of the cinematic adaptations of comic books, whether the plot has centred around superheros (Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy) or something darker (the Korean OldBoy. Not so much the Hollywood remake).
When I heard Suicide Squad was getting the movie treatment, I was excited for several reasons. Firstly, the premise: conventional 'baddies' being sent on a thankless mission that will probably result in death. Due to me being such a nice, well-adjusted person (😂), I often side with the bad guys in movies (case in point: Michael Madsen's sadistic lunatic in Reservoir Dogs and a certain blonde lady in Gone Girl who I never talk about are two of my favourite film characters). So the fact that Suicide Squad was revelling in the characters' villain status meant this was the perfect film for me!
Secondly, the devil may care, vigilante feel of the trailer made the film look bloody awesome. And finally, the casting of Margot Robbie, another blonde lady who I never talk about, (Naomi Lapaglia in Wolf of Wall Street is my pick for sexiest femme in a film, but that's a discussion for another day), as Harley Quinn!!!
However, trepidation crept in when I heard it got rated PG-13 by the MPAA. The whole premise of the movie is that these are villains using their villainous skills to save the world, and in doing so employing all manner of unorthodox methods (and by unorthodox I mean shady) and I struggled to see DC Comics' full adult vision with such a candyfloss, albeit, lucrative rating.
Furthermore, as someone who is all too familiar with having countless 12A films almost ruined for me due to boisterous kids in the crowd (watching Ghostbusters on Saturday a shining example of this, some of the eight year olds cheered every time they saw a ghost! Given that the film is called 'Ghostbusters', I don't think I need to highlight that it occurred. A lot.), I was not looking forward to sharing my viewing experience of Suicide Squad with kids.
And having it bastardised by them.
Thankfully, I won't need to!!!! The BBFC have slapped a 15 certificate on Suicide Squad, and a 15 over here means only 15 year olds and above will be let in. If some baby-faced 13 year old tries it, they'll be ID'd, and promptly shown the door.
The 15 certificate was given for 'sustained threat, moderate violence'. Compare that to Deadpool, another 15-rated comic book adaptation released this year's BBFC short insight: 'strong language, strong bloody violence, strong sex references', and it's safe to say that Suicide Squad will sit at the lower end of a 15, particularly given that in the majority of cases, PG-13 aligns to a 12A over here.
But a 15 is a 15 is a 15, and it means I get to watch a talented ensemble cast (and Cara Delevingne. #IWentThere) kicking ass all over the place
, without snot-nosed kids contaminating the audience!
Suicide Squad is released in the UK on August 5th.
(The level of nerdy will now escalate, you have been warned!)
For the film trivia collectors, of which, I am of course one (heck, it's the only round in Trivial Pursuit where I ever get any points!!), Suicide Squad being awarded a 15 by the BBFC and a PG-13 in the States might be the most high-profile case of the two film certification boards mismatching.
Whilst, as mentioned previously, most PG-13s get their equivalent here, the 12A, differences in opinion aren't uncommon. A few recent movies that got PG-13 in the States and a 15 here include the Blake Lively shark movie The Shallows, as well as Nerve, and Mustang.
In fact, most upper-end PG-13 rated horror movies receive 15 here, mainly due the the threat being judged to be too intense for a 12A-rated horror movie. It's interesting that 'sustained threat' was the defining factor for Suicide Squad's 15 rating.
Up until now, The Sixth Sense is probably the most 'famous' film I can think of that got 15 here and PG-13 in the States. But, as I said, horror movies getting different ratings in Britain and America are not that unusual.
I'm calling it: Suicide Squad is the most high-profile case of a disparity in ratings between the MPAA and the BBFC. But I love it. Not just because it means I avoid my biggest fear (whiny pests), but because it shows the BBFC are capable of independent thought, and don't just mirror their American counterparts robotically.
Finally, in Suicide Squad, the Joker features. Heath Ledger portrayed this character in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, with disturbing menace, so much so that he posthumously won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
He was so good, so convincingly scary, that it caused The Dark Knight to become the BBFC's most complained about film of all time: 364 expressions of dissatisfaction were filed, mainly from parents complaining about how frightened their kids had been by The Joker.
Although I never wrote in, this is a phenomena I saw firsthand: my entire family (me, my mum, my dad and my brother who was ten at the time) watched it at a Butlins cinema. During three scenes: the pencil scene, when Ledger held Maggie Gyllenhaal hostage, and Aaron Eckhart's burnt face, my brother was so afraid he hid his face in my arm to avert his gaze.
(This is now super-ironic because these days, I force my 18-year-old brother to watch films that I'm too chicken to alone with me, such as the Hollywood re-make of OldBoy. Although let's be real, the scariest thing about the remake was Sharlto Copley's acting. #IWentThereAgain.)
In Suicide Squad, the Joker will be portrayed by Jared Leto, who, like Ledger, has won an Academy Award for BSA (I thought Jonah Hill should have won that year, but, of course I'd say that as he played my Spirit Animal). From the trailer, his green hair, white face and bared decaying teeth indicate that he is no less sinister than Ledger's portrayal of the same character.
Given how much headache The Dark Knight caused the BBFC, I wonder if this played on their mind when they were eenie meenie minie mo'ing over that 12A vs 15 decision.