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[Joint Review] – ‘Suicide Squad’

 
 
Overview
 

Release Date: 5 August 2016 [USA]
 
Director: David Ayer
 
Writer: David Ayer
 
Cast: Will Smith - Jared Leto - Margot Robbie - Viola Davis
 


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Posted August 10, 2016 by

 
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Jonathan’s Perspective:

There’s a moment in David Ayer’s highly-anticipated, highly-maligned Suicide Squad in which Deadshot (Will Smith) is about to go into battle with his meta-human dirty dozen comrades. As they travel to the upper reaches of the high-rise office building where some mysterious villainy awaits, Deadshot pulls on a white mask. It prompts a little barb, one of many, from Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.

Now, I say the following with the admission that I am not a fanboy. I do not read comics. I never have. I don’t know single verses, let alone multiverses. I see the movies from DC and Marvel because I see most everything. But I do not live them.

I have no clue why Deadshot pulls on that mask.

There, I said it. Maybe it’s obvious. Maybe it’s right there in the movie and I just missed it. Maybe it’s in his back story and will mean something to diehards. But not to me. And I mention this because it is just one of countless things that I simply do not understand about the story Ayer, as screenwriter, has crafted.

Suicide Squad is a supremely stupid, yet surprising entertaining, movie. The stupidity comes from a screenplay which makes no sense, asks us to accept ridiculous character motivation, and mangles its exposition from beginning to end. Under normal circumstances, I would lay most of the blame for this on the pen of the writer. In this case, I suspect Ayer, who both wrote and directed, was sabotaged by a studio so shaken by the failure of Batman v Superman that it demanded massive rewrites, reshoots, and recuts right up until the release. This is a complicated narrative with lots of moving parts, and even small changes have the potential to seriously undermine the finished product.

Think of RKO’s disembowelment of Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, or Miramax’s evisceration of Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Those movies were strong enough to survive the blatant holes that all the post-production tinkering left. Suicide Squad is not anywhere near that league. Still there is enough there to make you long for what might have been.

First and foremost, there are a group of really good characters. It is tremendous fun to watch Jay Hernandez’s Diablo literally light up a room, or Adewale Akinnuoye’Agbaje’s Killer Croc slither off into the city’s sewers. Jared Leto’s over-the-top Joker only appears in small doses, which is a wise decision. At its center, Smith is a solid Deadshot and Robbie is a dynamite Harley.

It’s hard to grade Ayer’s direction since so much of this movie is dependent on costume and set design and soundtrack. A lot of the pieces, like that soundtrack, are strong. The major set pieces, especially the look of the ultimate Enchantress villain, have been done as well or better in a half dozen other movies by this point, so they fall a little bit flat. It’s actually kind of hard to distinguish some of those big ticket sequences from similar moments in a mediocrity like Breck Eisner’s The Last Witch Hunter. But overall, Ayer the director is not the problem here.

Ayer the screenwriter, on the other hand…

Deadshot and Harley are introduced in the first two sequences with some extended backstory. Then, after some exposition from Viola Davis’ puppet master Amanda Waller, we get a bit of a reintroduction. That kind of expository choppiness will become a hallmark of the movie, and is what I think is most attributable to all the tweaking that was done during post. Later, at a key moment when good guy Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) must own up to the real reason the suicide squaders are in this fight, he repeats almost verbatim a sequence we have already seen, adding absolutely nothing to the story. This kind of thing gets you a failing grade in most screenwriting classes.

The screenplay also does a very poor job of marking out why particular missions are being carried out, failing to provide logical back story. And perhaps even worse, it never adequately explains the powers that anyone has. This makes it very difficult to become involved in the immediate drama beyond the visceral thrill of sound and color and motion. The poorly defined army that the Enchantress is constructing looks scary at first, but after seeing Harley take out the fifth one with her baseball bat, we realize these are as big a disappointment as those glass-jawed Orcs from LOTR.

What’s more, Suicide Squad plays fast and loose with death, never a good movie. I won’t spoil anything, but just rest assured that if you see a character die, there’s a pretty good chance he or she is coming back later.

Maybe the biggest story flaw is the Ponzi scheme nature of the conflict. Again, without giving too much away, it appears that the central conflict here is something that has been created by Waller herself. It would be fascinating to interpret this through a lens which argues that Waller is in fact Ayer, forced by the ever increasing pressure of magic and technology to make up more and more scary shit for us to worry about. But I don’t want to go too far down that road. I just don’t want to think that hard.

I will say that Suicide Squad does something at its climax which is so reminiscent of BVS that it makes me start to wonder if this is just part of the DC playbook. Like Lex Luthor in BVS, the Enchantress has the game won. The only thing that can derail her is her own stupidity. If she simply took a nap at the climax, evil would triumph over good. But she, like Lex, doesn’t, and so an opening is provided.

Or perhaps I missed something. I don’t think I did, but it’s possible.

Now, if I could just figure out why Deadshot has that white mask…

Written by:

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Jonathan Eig
@rockynrudy
Huffington Post
CurnBlog
Full Contributor

 

Olatide’s Perspective:

Suicide Squad probably one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2016, with one of the best movie marketing I have seen for a while, this movie was bound to receive massive hype and expected to reach extraordinary expectations. If the hype wasn’t already a big enough burden, due to the huge disappointment of Batman V Superman, everyone was counting on Suicide Squad to deliver and hoping the “bad guys” will be the ones not only to save the world but to save the DCEU movie franchise.

A few days before Suicide Squad’s official release, it received a huge flood of negative reviews similar to Batman V Superman. I wasn’t a fan of Batman V Superman and I wasn’t very excited about the film, but when I saw the reviews for suicide squad, honestly I was shocked. With Suicide Squad’s amazing trailers, talented cast and different concept (bad guys trying to save the world, not your typical “superhero film”) I wondered how bad can it be?

I went into the cinema with an open mind, ignoring the reviews and hoping for the best and I can tell you Suicide Squad is definitely not as bad as people are saying.

A U.S intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides to assemble a team of the most dangerous supervillains who she believes have the ability to do some good. Now armed with the worst heroes ever, Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) must lead this team of misfits to complete a top-secret mission.

The first thing you will notice about Suicide Squad is its stellar cast which includes Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Viola Davis and Cara Delevingne. The cast really give it their all as they portrayed their characters extremely well. But with a massive cast like this obviously some performances were going to steal the show while other characters just fade into the background. For me the standout performances were Margot Robbie and Will Smith, in their second film together after Focus (2015) where both stars showed they have natural chemistry. Once again in Suicide Squad Smith and Robbie prove to be great together while also shining individually.

Although I don’t read comic books, after watching Suicide Squad I can just say Margot Robbie was born to play Harley Quinn, the look, the voice, the performance was just flawless! Robbie gave a performance which was sexy and funny but still badass and psychotic. Will Smith was perfectly

casted as Deadshot; he performed like a charismatic natural born leader who was insanely cool and also… pretty badass! Then there is Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, wow… she was stone cold, Viola played Amanda superbly, just mean, ruthless and remorseless, all these characteristics Viola injected into her portrayal as Amanda Waller.

As I said before some characters faded into the background from time to time as Smith and Robbie were just stealing the show but Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang was pretty good, he was more of a comedic character didn’t have much input except during action scenes, but he definitely added humour into the darkly toned DC film. Other characters like El Diablo (Jay Hernadez) Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) also deserve a mention for giving a good performance despite their smaller role; the film would have been better if these characters were more developed, as I was quite curious to know more about them.

Now the person you’ve probably been waiting for The Joker (Jared Leto) A.K.A as Mr J, you’ll probably be disappointed to know that he didn’t have enough screen time for me comment on his performance or compare him to the iconic Heath Ledger. But from what I saw Jared Leto gave a creepy, cool and twisted performance. When the promotional material for suicide squad was first released I wasn’t a fan of Leto’s look as one of the most iconic supervillains but watching the film you can see how his silver teeth, crazy tattoos and gold chains really suit the film. The Joker doesn’t add anything to the main plot he was pretty much doing his own thing in an interesting sub plot.

Moving away from the characters which were the best thing about this film, it’s time to discuss the flaws and there were many. The editing was a big problem, I did enjoy the movie but I won’t lie, it did feel very rushed, which doesn’t surprise me as the script was written in six weeks. There was a poor flow of narrative throughout the film, sometimes the jump from the present to a flashback scene didn’t flow and felt forced. The loud music in the first act of the filmed overpowered the dialogue so I struggled to hear what the characters were saying, it’s like the music was purposely put on blast to hypnotise the audience so they won’t notice the awful editing. The movie was very unbalanced; the second and third act felt like one massive finale shot in the same dark city. The biggest problem for me was the awful villain, so many problems with the villain that it messed up the plot. The unintimidating Villain was underdeveloped; their motive was unclear and all in all didn’t do much except gyrate and spread ugly CGI everywhere.

Despite Suicide Squads rubbish villain, messy plot and choppy editing, it did have good qualities which were enough to save the film and overshadow its flaws. What I love about Suicide Squad is its humour and comic book style I liked the colours and how each squad member was introduced with bright, quirky text. The film is cool, fun and highly enjoyable however not quite as edgy as it could have been; if Suicide Squad made the most of its 15 age rating maybe by having more blood, violence or just something to fulfil its certificate of 15 it would have been a better film.

I enjoyed Suicide Squad and had an absolute blast watching it, the action sequences were shot beautifully, the characters were great and acted fantastically. The scenes between Harley Quinn and The Joker were brilliant, their crazy relationship is very interesting and I’m glad they added it into the movie. Although annoying loud out times the soundtrack was awesome; when played at the right moment it really added to the entertainment factor of the film.

Yes, it did have flaws and definitely didn’t fulfil its potential of being the edgy, dark superhero film of 2016 which everyone loved. But for me Suicide Squad is way better than Batman V Superman and just tops Man Of Steel; despite the negative reviews it’s still a step forward for DC. I think the flaws of the movie bothered many people and led to huge disappointments which led to bad reviews, but a film with such huge hype and pressure to be excellent was always going to fall flat on its face. Also the reshoots and interference from Warner Bros to make the perfect DC film didn’t help ever.

However Suicide Squad should pick itself up and stand tall and proud as it’s probably the most entertaining film in the DC franchise even if it’s filled with flaws.

Written by:

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Olatide Renee
@popcornoncouch
PopcornOnCouch.com
PopcornOnCouch – Facebook
Freelance Contributor

 

Alston’s Review:

Brace yourselves! David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is a big disappointment and far better than you could have hoped at the very same time. And for those fanboys and those who are DC-curious, it’s a far better film than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Deep breaths, you’re alright.

Unlike the Marvel movies which have taken years of planning, Suicide Squad popped up on Warner Bros’ radar erratically. Word exclusively came out from The Hollywood Reporter’s mouth directly telling us that we were going to spectate a movie that was given to an inexperienced action blockbuster director who constructed a script in less than 6 months. And with Dawn of Justice drowning itself in negative reviews, we can be sure they all went into a frenzy.

Now obviously Warner Bros decided to empty their pockets to save this predicted blockbuster. Funding “funnier” reshoots seemed to have been in their best interest, and it does not end there. With the delightful response to the film’s Bohemian Rhapsody trailer, the film was given to the trailer’s studio house to make big edits for a hopefully less Christopher Nolan lookalike. This probably was Warner’s biggest mistake, but rest assured Suicide Squad strains and squeezes itself through in the end.

Enter Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller. Looking to make someone cry and have an inferiority complex? This petrifying motivator proves she is the right woman for the job. She assembles a team which consists of nine villainous heroes to fight evil-er forces in case the superheroes are out grabbing coffee.

From punching mattresses in jail to leading the squad, Will Smith’s Deadshot is one that grows on you. For a stone cold killer, he’s quite heartwarming and unexpectedly finds himself unifying everyone onboard. He and Margot Robbie’s psychiatrist-turned-psychopath Harley Quinn are employed as the new front faces of Squad. With b-list characters searching for fame right behind them and who could’ve only have been noticed if you have had a past (or a present) with comic books, it seemed like a wise decision indeed.

Revisiting both these characters’ pasts was an expected surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. Human emotion finally exists with DC, with Smith’s Deadshot’s fatherly love towards his daughter acting up and Quinn choosing the dark side in the name of love. We get a glimpse at what a smiling Gotham could potentially look like in the films to come. Surprisingly quenching, those two villains proceed to see themselves end up in prison thanks to the Bat who enters this party of a movie. Oh yes, if you found it intense watching your two favourite heroes battle each other in BvS, this was more than a visual treat and turned out to be the best ten minutes of the film.

Don’t be confused if you find the movie to have pacing issues, it comes along with the whole package. That and the fact that it feels like two completely different movies running simultaneously, as though it were choosing between two genre types. Whether it’s a serious or waggish film, that’s something you shall never know. You can forget the concept about character building with this one as you will never see it done. Or maybe you will and this movie will join the likes of them. With characters like Killer Croc, Diablo, Captain Boomerang, Enchantress and a few more making their onscreen debut, it is discomforting to witness something like this.

Oscar Winner Jared Leto is a man of many talents, and definitely, has a much darker side to him than we expected. While he may smile and maintain his calm persona (which is almost psychopathic if you have noticed on occasions), he delivers a Joker we have never seen before. Shiny jewellery, fancy gangster accessories, the whole shebang – this mafia clown has it all with a demeaning taste for a high-end lifestyle with his fair lady by his side.

If you know what a horror film feels like, you can expect yourself to feel the same eerie feeling you get while watching him in action. What’s interesting is that the character himself is not the kind to hold on to loose ends, yet Leto’s version finds himself risking his minions’ bones and limbs to get back his wicked beloved.

If you think this is disappointing news about the character? Here’s where I’m afraid to say, you can shed a few more tears because it doesn’t end there.

Ever read an Alex Ross DC graphic novel? This movie is populated with stunning visuals of these characters who have been lifted from the pages of popular books like these! With the story still trying to muddle its way to safety and with some gawdy action sequences, the film runs on the cast’s and imagery’s steam and nothing more. It also seems like Ayer wanted to tell the world he updated his Spotify list. With random ambiguous songs playing in the background, it’s evident they are compensating for a soundtrack that is nothing short of forgettable

Alas, with the clock almost striking twelve, a climax to save everything should’ve been in order. Meh. Needless to say, it was DC’s version of this year’s Ghostbusters, but with their characters just casually waltzing through the whole film.

David Ayer should find himself back to directing movies that aren’t out of his league, especially when there is a lot is riding on it. Sure, it is an infernal mess with a shady script and weak characters, but in the end, you can still stop to appreciate that Suicide Squad tried to be different in more ways than just one. He should watch his back, though, those were big words he threw around about Marvel at two Comic Cons.

Leaving you nodding your head, the non-kid friendly DC adventure is in theatres and is definitely worth your time and money at least once. Here’s to a brighter future for DC with a change in staff at Warner Bros maybe? Salut.

Written by:

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Alston Rodrigues
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Behance
Freelance Contributor

 

Michael’s Perspective:

Superman is dead. Amanda Waller, black-ops handler for the US government, has an idea for replacing Earth’s sentinel against the perceived meta-human threat. Compared to the Son of Krypton, her suggestion leaves a lot to be desired. Waller proposes the Suicide Squad; a crew of the most dangerous criminals currently in custody. However, dealing with unimaginable threats is only half the problem. Keeping this crew in check is the other.

It’s not long into the movie before we’re given a video-game style checklist of the Squad’s members. While some of the introductions are attention grabbing (Deadshot’s and Harley Quinn’s in particular), some are underwhelming while other well-advertised characters don’t even get a shout.

Right away, it’s painfully clear things are going wrong. There’s the reveal of the Joker (or rather lack thereof). Included in Quinn’s intro, the Joker is simply…there. No build up at all. Suicide Squad commits this wasteful sin twice on the Joker (the latter being a helicopter hijacking).

About half-way through we are then fecklessly shown Slipknot and Katana. Why these characters mean less than Captain Boomerang or El Diablo is a mystery. The coverage divvied out among the crew members is frustratingly lopsided.

As for the plot, it’s spiralling nonsense. The likes of the amoral Quinn and Deadshot do not behave as we’ve known them too and they are slaves to the plot’s trundling forth.

Pop-music is littered throughout the show and it can’t help but feel contrived. No doubt the studios have picked up on how dull and gloomy everyone thought Man of Steel and BvS were. Suicide Squad tries hard to reach the brilliant, punkish humour of Guardians of the Galaxy and falls embarrassingly short.

The performances is where Suicide Squad picks up some points. Will Smith and Margot Robbie are easily the ones to watch. Smith is back with his timing and sass that has not deteriorated. Robbie, while dealing with a poorly written Quinn, injects the mania necessary. At times an accent comes through sounding slightly like the now classic Arleen Sorkin voice but its Robbie’s hyperactive menace that you will remember.

Even when standing next to Killer Croc, it’s Viola Davis’ Waller that ends up as the real monster. Her power over the Suicide Squad gives her a worrying smugness, like she’s busy planning her own fiefdom.

There’s some real shame though that the rest of the cast aren’t given the time of day. Jai Courney’s Boomerang seems like a real bastard you want to get to know. As for Jared Leto’s Joker, you may be left with a feeling of disappointed confusion. Judging from news emerging after the film’s premier, the performance has apparently been stifled, Leto himself complaining of many scenes being cut. What there is to judge though is puzzling. Leto’s Joker, Marilyn Manson-esque, is a struggle to hear and over-acted at times. To top it off, the character is spoiled with some truly dreadful editing.

Most grating is Cara Delevingne as the Enchantress. It’s actually more like 3 performances; the unremarkable Dr. Moore, a primal version of Enchantress and finally a more goddess-like version who for some reason cannot stop shuffling while she preaches. She must be related to X-Men’s Apocalypse for their murky plots and ill-defined hatred of humanity are identical.

Even the action scenes (surely supposed to be the saving grace for a movie like this) are a mess. The minions are uninspired blackened zombies covered in frog spawn and with so many of them running around darkened streets and cramped office spaces, the fight scenes become visual vomit. This goes double for the rain-soaked slo-mo climax. Why make a fight scene difficult to comprehend? Has anyone involved here watched a Jackie Chan movie?

Suicide Squad continues DC’s streak of ineptitude in topping Marvel. The likes of Civil War handled more characters and yet executed them miles better than here. There are neither laughs nor gasps of shock and excitement. There surely must be a slightly enjoyable DC movie on the way since the bar is now so low.

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Michael Keyes
Silences Band
@mkjk1990
Full Contributor

 

Larry’s Perspective:

I am going to declare my allegiance now by saying that my favourite superheroes are Captain Yesterday, Clobberella and Super King Bender ‘the best of the three’. People take superhero movies way too seriously – cue large virtual objects thrown in my general direction. Growing up in the 1970s, we had terrible special effects and had to make do with ‘Doc Savage, Man of Bronze’ (superpower: he doesn’t tan). So I’m not going to get terribly upset that ‘Suicide Squad’ doesn’t deliver. Ok, just a little bit, like couldn’t they have hired a writer-director who has some feeling for the material?

I admit that I quite enjoyed the original ‘Superman’, mainly because of the humour and Christopher Reeve’s graceful never-break-a-sweat performance. Oh and the Gene Hackman-Ned Beatty double act, interrupted by Valerie Perrine (‘when I was young, my father said to me’ – ‘get out’). A great cast can make great superhero movies. I may not believe a man can fly, but I can forget about the green screen.

The DC comic book universe has evolved since then. There is no longer the optimism of ‘Superman’ but dark city streets crawling with villains who put more feeling into their wardrobe than their get rich quick schemes. The heroes are wounded, tortured souls who can only express themselves through nocturnal vigilante activities, latex or both. They usually have flaws like a dearth of real superpowers and a costume that makes combat difficult. Incidentally, just once I would like to see a superhero wearing slippers – also an easy to use weapon.

As we know from many a superhero flick or rogue cop movie or indeed any major action film in the last thirty years, there is not much difference between the heroes and their nemesis. They both over-compensate and resort to silly names where now an emoticon will do.

‘Suicide Squad’ is a film where the villains get called upon to save the world. Why? Because Mommy told them to! Viola Davis plays Amanda Waller, a government official who is down amongst the generals breaking the glass ceiling. She has the heart of a seven thousand year Enchantress in a box and she will go voodoo on it to keep her one coerced super-villain (Cara Delevigne) in line. For reasons best known to comic book readers, the US Defence Secretary approves the temporary recruitment of 50% of the Fantastic Four – all right, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Diablo (Jay Hernandez) – as well as a sentimental assassin, Dead Shot (Will Smith), a demented advert for pop socks, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, terrific), a walking cliché, Boomerang (Jai Courtney channelling Eric Bana’s Mark ‘Chopper’ Read) and a native American (Adam Beach). They are all coerced in a manner familiar to viewers of ‘Escape from New York’.

Just when you thought the film couldn’t get more derivative, it has effects straight out of Stephen Sommers ‘The Mummy’ and an ending straight out of ‘Ghostbusters’ (either one, take your pick). You wonder what writer-director David Ayer (‘End of Watch’, ‘Fury’) was thinking.

The film makes no sense. Set in a city called Midway, it has extensive exposition that takes us ages to get there – introducing the characters with their ‘Top Trump’ values (if only). Incidentally, I can see the future US President banning that game – Hillary Clinton would like us to play ‘Scrabble’. The villains are rounded up by a well-known DC superhero (or two) and put in a maximum security Guantanamo Bay type facility. But where are those heroes when hell – or rather an ancient deity – breaks loose. Where are the Ghostbusters? (Either set, doesn’t matter.)

The bare minimum you’d expect from the film is repartee – ‘Snake Plissken, I thought you were dead’, that kind of thing. Nothing doing! Then you might hope for impressive action sequences. Not here. Satire? Nope! Endless DC comic in-jokes? No. Heck, after thirty minutes, you might wish for Joel Schumacher.

What this film has is Robbie – Robbie, Robbie, Robbie. Some actresses drink power shakes. Margot Robbie acts like she jumped into the juicer and then applied her make-up. She’s a pixie with a baseball bat, cheery, teasing and far more alive than anyone in the movie. She gives, in my estimation, a star making performance.

At the opposition end of the spectrum is Will Smith. He’s a man on the way out. He used to be the coolest person in the room, the quickest wit, the slickest mover. He does not for one milli-second convince as a villain-turned-good. (‘I don’t kill women or children’ – that’s all you need to know.) His daughter stops him shooting a franchise character, though if she didn’t step between them, a few lawyers might. Smith’s Dead Shot doesn’t have a superpower – he fires guns. Right now, that might not make him particularly popular – the Dallas sniper attack carried out by Micah Johnson is still fresh in people’s minds. (I’m amazed more film reviewers haven’t made the connection.) He really does look like a man out of time.

As for Jared Leto, he is certainly deranged and menacing, but he doesn’t have a singularly memorable bit of business as the Joker, a steel-capped make-up wearer laughing on the inside kind of clown. He has comparatively few scenes, but then he is neither hero nor villain, only Harley Quinn’s testing boyfriend. I don’t think super-villains believe in marriage; they worry about property rights.

The nominal good guy is Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a special-forces officer trusted to lead Team ‘X’. He is in love with a scientist possessed by the Enchantress – every time her heart gets stabbed, he winces.

‘Suicide Squad’ has proved critic proof at the US box office. It has across the board comic book appeal. For most of us, it is the Margot Robbie show – give her a franchise right now. For about a minute I hoped that the Enchantress’ super plan was to give everyone on Earth a Delevigne-style uni-brow. That would be more original – and entertaining – than the majority of this flick.

Written by:

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Larry Oliver
@LarryOliverFilm
Full Contributor

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