Look, Suicide Squad: Not The One We’re Selling Right Now isn’t a good movie. Obligatory conversation and padding words about good, etcetera and whatever, point is, I didn’t like Suicide Squad and neither did the markets. Markets are meaningless, meritocracy is fake, but I think this is a situation where a movie I thought was shit also failed to score well at Capitalism and the result is a movie that is even as we speak, being quietly shoved in a back drawer and forgotten forever.
Which isn’t fair, because I was too tired to really take it to task when it looked like it might be the formula that Whoever Owns These Movies might be trying to use as their template, and the idea of arguing with this movie’s weaknesses was just pissing in an almighty wind made of money. Sure, there are better people for talking about editing and camerawork and Jai Courtney may even be able to forgive himself for that fucking accent god damnit man you’re from fucking Cherrybrook for fucks sake, anyway, anyway.
Point is, I love talking about movies that failed and disposable media as if it’s worth taking seriously, so hey, why not talk about something in this movie that is really, really effed up and merits some of that there media scrutinising.
And so, let’s talk about Captain Boomerang, the Australian character they introduced with Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap my fucking god I hate this movie so much.
And how his court sentence makes no fucking sense.
In case you don’t remember this owl’s fart of a movie, Captain Boomerang is one of the Suicide Squad, ‘supervillains’ who have been defeated by heroes, then put in Belle Reve penitentiary. As human resources that the US carceral system can employ, they are put to unpaid labour with no workplace safety, it seems, starting with the bombs implanted in their heads to make sure that they obey the warden of the prison. This is an opportunity for them to ‘work off’ their sentences, and if they die, oh well. It’s a really good gory grindhouse kind of story space where you get to see all the villains you may not care about but you kinda care about coming to do ‘hero work’ with a great excuse. The idea is so freaking good.
Now, the typical complaint about Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad in general is that he’s just an ordinary dude with some boomerangs. In the comics this is dealt with by him being really clever and managing to maintain multiple lines of con that keep him just shy of being killed. He’s clever but not smart, cunning in a rat-trap way. This also makes him one of the more — well I’m reluctant to say ‘well-loved’ but he’s definitely appreciated by people. The writers clearly had an idea of what to do with him. While he’s definitely a dumb character — he’s a thief with a gimmick — the comics still find a use for him, and there’s even an excuse here about how he’s being kept in place because he ‘went up against a superhuman and lived.’
He went up against The Flash.
The Flash doesn’t kill people as a matter of course.
And he got caught very easily in a bank heist.
What the hell.
But okay, that’s the typical complaint. This guy doesn’t belong here, the idea of him is ridiculous, what the hell right? But while that is true and stupid, that’s just the normal kind of stupid for this movie. It wants to be about this guy and it wants to be about how he is somehow worth putting on this squad of people who, largely, do not have superhuman capabilities at all. This is however, completely unrelated to my point, to the point here that needs addressing.
At the conclusion of Katana Is In This Movie: I Would Advise Not Getting Killed By Her, Her Sword Traps The Souls Of Those She Kills, Boomerang mentions that he is serving three life sentences.
There is no reason for him to lie about this. There is nothing that makes this necessary to say. There is no incentive to lie. That means that we can take, in the fiction of this universe, that Captain Boomerang is serving three consecutive life sentences. Thing is, that’s a thing. That’s a thing that happens. We know why people serve consecutive life sentences. We know why they do things like that in prisons; you get life sentences for extremely large, high-scale crimes and mostly you get to parole in them. Multiple life sentences mean that you do need to serve multiple ‘after n years, chance for parole’ units. The most common thing you get a life sentence for is drug charges, then firearm offenses, murder, then racketeering and extortion. Note that of these, they are all punishments designed to punish people running organisations; you don’t tend to get life sentences for a firearms charge on the scale of five to ten guns.
Also, note, boomerangs are not firearm offenses.
Bank robbery is not at all on the list of reasons I could find people have been given life sentences.
Multiple life sentences are however, only assigned in the case of, at minimum, multiple premeditated murders. The lore of the movies, the things we’re told and the things we’re shown indicate that Captain Boomerang is a burglar. He’s a thief. He has done nothing but harm to insured property, and that level of crime, no matter how serious or severe, simply does not occasion the kind of punishment that results in a life sentence.
Simply put: three life sentences in a federal penitentiary is what you get for heinous crimes. Crimes that often involve the occasioning of lethal harm to children.
Now there are three options here:
- Boomerang committed something terrible that nobody in the universe wants to comment on, and everyone is okay with enough to deal with him and not kill him on sight.
- Boomerang is lying about having multiple life sentences, despite Waller seeming to confirm it.
- The movie has no idea what you get a life sentence for.
I think it’s the third thing. I think this movie thinks that, yeah, you can get multiple life sentences if you steal enough money, ignoring that a lot of white collar criminals who steal huge sums of money don’t actually go to prison for serious lengths of time. And that means that this movie, under its skin, operates on a vision of prison and life sentences that just doesn’t know what happens in prisons. Bad people go to prisons, because they are bad.
And that’s it.
That this plot point was seen as meaningfully true is one of those symptoms of the way media treats prisons and the way people fail to examine that.
Is it clear what I’m getting at here? I’m saying this movie chose to put a plot point in that’s a sign of the fundamental moral sickness of America’s deliberate ignorance about prison systems and the nature of crime.