The bad guys (and gals) of the DC universe succeed where its superheroes have struggled
Concerned by the emergence of super-powered beings like Superman and the threat they may pose to the US, government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) cooks up Task Force X. This off-the-books special ops team is made up primarily of expendable 'metahuman' felons who have been 'persuaded' to do as they're told – thank to explosives implanted in their necks.
Put under the command of military operative Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) the team consists of sharpshooting assassin Deadshot (Will Smith); The Joker's girlfriend, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie); ancient witch the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne); Australian thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney); pyrokinetic gangbanger Diablo (Jay Hernandez); reptilian mutant Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje); swordswoman Katana (Karen Fukuhara); and escapologist Slipknot (Adam Beach).
When the Enchantress escapes her bonds and goes rogue, Task Force X is sent in to put an end to her world-ending plans. Of course, that would require the squad members to stop plotting their escape and learn to function as a team. And then there's another wildcard to deal with, The Joker (Jared Leto), who really wants to get his lady back.
Following hot on the heels of Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, David Ayer's Suicide Squad sees DC Comics/Warner Bros. still rushing to cobble together its own interconnected cinematic superhero universe to challenge Marvel. Thankfully, unlike Snyder's grim superhero slugfest, Suicide Squad's cast of grotesques and anti-heroes ensures that the film doesn't take itself too seriously. Instead, there's a whiff of Deadpool about its punk attitude and unpredictable characters.
That's not to say that Suicide Squad is as good a film as the X-Men spin-off. In fact, it's a bit of a mess. From the episodic opening act that introduces each of the characters (with added Batman and Flash cameos), through its over-extended cast where some characters get lost in the mix, and up to its anticlimactic finale, it's a film that certainly could do with tightening up.
However, messy doesn't necessarily mean bad. Ignore the critical lambasting it received on its cinema release, as Suicide Squad is DC's best film to date. And more than that, it's genuinely fun.
Most of that is down to the cast. Smith is as smooth and charming as ever as Deadshot, while Robbie steals the film with her excellent comic timing. Elsewhere, Viola Davis succeeds in making Amanda Waller a menacing government puppet-master, while Jared Leto's gonzo gangsta take on The Joker moves the character out from under the shadow of Heath Ledger's anarchist and turns him into a full-on psychopath.
It's just a shame that nobody could come up with anything better for them to do than fight hordes of Identikit black, blobby mutants that appear to have stepped out of a second-rate videogame. And the less said about the 'big bad' and its swirly CGI pillar of pixels (the umpteenth time this sort of ill-defined digital McGuffin has served as the focus for the finale of a modern Hollywood blockbuster), the better.
Still, we can't wait to spend more time with this roll-call of rogues in future sequels or spin-offs.
Picture: Unlike the rather homogeneous aesthetic preferred by the Marvel movies, the DCEU prefers a more stylised visual palette (no matter what this disc's extras may say about 'chasing reality').
Like its predecessors, Suicide Squad is a dark film, but it's one that is peppered by occasional splashes of vivid neon colours. Together with the excellent contrast levels (which ensures that intricate details are easily discerned amongst all the gloom) this give the 1080p image a palpable sense of depth and scale. All in all, it's a terrific Blu-ray presentation.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: Suicide Squad hits Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack (with Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core). This packs broad dynamic range and deep LFE; all of the big action sequences are backed up with the necessary aural punch. Surround channels get plenty of use during these sequences, too, with bullets, etc, spraying all around you.
While Atmos height info can get a little lost in the chaos of the more anarchic action scenes, it does prove very effective with atmospheric effects. A sequence with Rick Flag and the Enchantress in the subway (Chapter 5), really does sound like you are all directly below the mayhem taking place overhead.
Meanwhile, the presentation of the film's music and dialogue is exemplary.
Audio rating: 4.5/5
Extras: This two-disc Blu-ray release includes both the Theatrical Version and an Extended Cut. The latter adds around 10 minutes of extra footage, but isn't an essential watch, bringing little substantial to the mix except for a silly scene involved Harley, Joker and a motorbike. There's definitely no sign of the well-publicised alternate Mr. J footage from the film's original finale...
Repeated across both discs are the same extras. These take the form of six fairly meaty Making of… featurettes (covering the history of the Suicide Squad, evoking 'reality', Joker and Harley Quinn, fight training, weapon design and creating the three big action set-pieces), plus a character guide and a gag reel.
We say: Spectacular 1080p visuals and immersive Atmos audio help this irreverent comic book flick standout on Blu-ray.
Suicide Squad: Extended Cut, Warner Bros, All-region BD, £25 approx
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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