Blu-ray Review: Suicide Squad (Extended Cut)

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The DC Extended Universe continues on its shaky footing with Suicide Squad. Though handily acquitted at the box office ($745 million worldwide), reaction was almost as mixed as it was with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Man of Steel (both of which were also big moneymakers). But lest anyone think this is another snarky dismissal of the superhero offerings of DC and Warner, there's a lot to enjoy in Suicide Squad.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has just issued an "Extended Cut" version on Blu-ray (also 3D Blu-ray and 4K UltraHD) that adds 12 minutes of footage to writer-director David Ayer's film. The extra stuff, some of which does involve Jared Leto's Joker (who's criminally shortchanged in the theatrical cut), is somewhat interesting but doesn't provide the startling makeover that Dawn of Justice received (seriously, even those who didn't care for that widely underrated film might want to give the 30-minute longer cut a shot). 
Suicide Squad joker.jpg Suicide Squad opens with a fantastic, fast-paced sequence of badass character introductions. U.S. intelligence specialist Amanda Waller (an ice cold Viola Davis, delivering the film's best performance) briefs her colleagues on the likes of crack marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), the Joker (Leto's interpretation is pitched about halfway between Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger), Joker's murderous moll Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), fire-generating El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and others who will make up the titular squad. The Suicide Squad is intended as a defense against "the next Superman," Waller insists. Keep in mind, after Dawn of Justice, Kal-El is still viewed as a threat to humankind.

These early sequences, scored to well-chosen rock tunes, have real zest. Unfortunately Squad falters when it comes to plotting. Army Special Forces Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is essentially Waller's right-hand man. His girlfriend June Moone (Carla Delevingne, saddled with the film's thinnest, most thankless role) also happens to be an ancient witch. She alternates between her "normal" persona and that of Enchantress. Waller initially believes Moone would make be valuable addition to the Squad, but Enchantress' revenge-against-the-world M.O. makes her their arch enemy. It's a bit odd that Waller or any government honcho was even comfortable with Flag dating such an unpredictable "meta-human" (as those with enhanced abilities are now called). 
Suicide Squad Harley Quinn.jpg As it becomes clear that the Joker is peripheral to the plot and the infinitely less-interesting Enchantress is the focal point, Squad deflates pretty quickly. Some of the individual Squad members' backstories, not just Harley and Joker but also El Diablo's dark past and Deadshot's relationship with his daughter, hold more potential than the simplistic "must stop Enchantress" agenda. Yet that's the road writer-director Ayer still goes down. What begins with a certain kooky, quirky, unusual metre devolves, in its second half, into something entirely too conventional. Still, the cast gives it their all.

Quality control is no issue with Warner's Blu-ray (2D, 1080p version was provided for review). Roman Vasyanov's dark cinematography looks great and the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround mix (Dolby Atmos for those, unlike me, fortunate enough to be equipped) rocks. 
Suicide Squad deadshot.jpg Special features are a mixed bag of so-so featurettes. Best of the bunch are "Task Force X: One Team, One Mission" (23 minutes) that focuses on the adaptation of the film from the DC Comics series and "Joker & Harley: 'It' Couple of the Underworld" (14 minutes). There are five other featurettes (totally about 40 minutes) covering various aspects Squad's production and a short gag reel.

Suicide Squad is fun overall, but just simply lacks a strong central story. The Joker, despite a strong effort by Leto, is completely superfluous. Ben Affleck cameos as Batman, which only made me wish he was in it a little more (loved his take on the character in Dawn of Justice, looking forward to more). There's potential here for these villains (who honestly sometimes feel more like conventional heroes, even Harley seems to lose some of her crazy as the film proceeds), but it'll take a greater writing/plotting effort next time around.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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