REVIEW: Suicide Squad
Last week was an odd one for Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad. On the same day it received three Grammy nominations for the soundtrack while Time named it one of the ten worst films of the year, and the Honest Trailer folk skewered it.
Now, Warner Home Entertainment is releasing the film on disc tomorrow, complete with Theatrical and Extended versions so if you liked it, you get 11 more minutes.
I’m biased. With writer and ComicMix columnist John Ostrander, we created the comic series the film is based on. There’s a building named after him in the movie and he’s a talking head in one of the extras where I get name checked twice (thanks, John). I can see our collective fingerprints all over the film, where David Ayer lifted tone, theme, or plot points from our first 18 months on the title. It’s something I never expected to see.
And yet…I am also cognizant that the film is incredibly flawed for a variety of reasons, starting with the idiotic idea that Ayer can writer and prep a film in a mere six weeks. Then there was the heavier than expected third act reshooting followed by word there were as many as seven different cuts of the film. When you have that many cooks, the results are rarely what one hopes for.
If anything, the film is wildly uneven as we veer from exposition to action to conversation to exposition to action, etc. At worst, it failed to live up to the expectations set by the brilliant trailers and marketing campaign. At best, it was a step in the right direction to a more enjoyable DC Cinematic Universe but not quite there yet.
The Squad is simply too large to properly service the characters with some having little to do so had their roles been combined, we might have had a tighter story. While Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) was sleazy and amusing, he had nothing substantive to do, for example. When Slipknot (Adam Beach) shows up without exposition, he may as well have been wearing a red shirt. That they traveled to Midway City to rescue Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), not once but twice, without explanation for why she was there, was weak.
Worse, the villain was sexy and all, but her ultimate goal made little sense. Like Apocalypse in the year’s earlier X-Men: Apocalypse, Enchantress (Cara Delevigne) is an ancient goddess now in the modern world and finds it wanting. She wants to build a “machine” to fix things and recruits her brother to help her achieve her goals since Waller literally holds her heart. We see energy and a ring of debris then we see she has tapped Waller’s mind and is taking out America’s satellites but exactly what was the end game? Dunno.
Yes, Will Smith’s Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn are the film’s brightest spots. Their easy alliance, thanks to having starred previously in 2015’s more entertaining Focus, gives the movie an emotional core.
On the other hand, Jared Leto’s Joker is nicely distinct from his cinematic predecessors, but is entirely superfluous to the story. Cut his scenes and the story still works so it would have been better to keep him to the flashbacks, as a carrot motivating Harley’s actions.
Speaking of which, the bulk of the new footage are the flashbacks deepening their backstory at Arkham Asylum, as the Joker manipulates Dr. Quinzel into helping him escape and then he can’t shake his unhinged groupie.
There’s a good story buried amidst the wreckage that the film proves to be and it’s a shame Ayer didn’t have the time to find it, shape it, and deliver it to the fans.
The high definition transfer of both versions (stacked one atop the other in the case) is excellent, capturing the shadows and colors with equal intensity. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is equally good, so if you like those songs, they sound great at home.
The combo pack comes with two Blu-ray discs, the DVD, and a Digital HD code. It should be noted that Warner has partnered with Vudu for something new, dubbed VUDU Extras+. If you buy the theatrical cut of the film from them for use on an iOS or Android device, there’s an app that will allow users to watch the movie and simultaneously experience synchronized content related to any scene, simply by rotating their device. Synchronized content is presented on the same screen while the movie is playing, thus enabling users to quickly learn more about any scene, such as actor biographies, scene locations, fun trivia, or image galleries.
There is a nice assortment of extras available on the discs, starting with Task Force X: One Team, One Mission as Ostrander, Ayer, Geoff Johns, producer Charles Roven, and others talk about the Squad’s comic book roots, dating back to The Brave and the Bold and the members. Jai Nitz is also there to talk his take on El Diablo, the one which made it on screen. There’s nice behind-the-scenes footage that shows how tight the ensemble grew together.
Additionally, there are other features focusing on different aspects of the production including Chasing the Real, Joker & Harley: “It” Couple of The Underworld, Squad Strength and Speed, Armed to the Teeth, This is Gonna Get Loud: The Epic Battles of Suicide Squad, The Squad Declassified, and of course, the Gag Reel.
The film has been an unexpected financial windfall for Warner given its global box office so the movie definitely struck a chord with some of the fans. Will there be a sequel? One hopes but Ayer seems out of the picture and the announced Harley Quinn solo film may preclude the need for a Squad 2. Time and final financial tallying will tell.