Blue+Red=Purple (A Review of Suicide Squad Extended Cut)


Warner Brothers recently released Suicide Squad Extended Cut. The film beautifully articulates the fluidity of good guys and bad guys. At any point in time, “good guys” can work for the bad side and “bad guys” can operate for the good side. After all, “there’s a lot of variables in the street.” I’ve always seen myself as a bad guy on the good side, so perhaps that’s why the movie speaks to me despite its plot flaws. Suicide Squad is about redemption but it is also ultimately about owning who you truly are—the good, the bad, and the ugly in remarkable super villain/hero synthesis.

The film’s best part is the rap-sheet style set of introductions that each villain receives, as a way to provide backstory and set up the characters. Once the film transitions into the “plot,” some yawns begin. Nevertheless, Harley Quinn’s flashbacks and show-stealing interludes save the viewer from the second and third acts.

While the Extended Cut doesn’t offer many changes, it does give deeper insight into the film’s most interesting narrative: The Joker-Harley Quinn relationship. Centrally, the film is quite aesthetically pleasing and this makes Suicide Squad kind of like AMC’s Mad Men, wherein the story is less important than the look.

And thus, the look (think gaze here as well as visual aesthetics), underscores the importance of Mr. J and Harley Quinn in driving the film. The Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship epitomizes the line from Clive Owen’s character in Mike Nichols’ Closer: “…[the] human heart...looks like a fist wrapped in blood!” Harley Quinn loves, hates, and needs Mr. J simultaneously. The Joker exclaims that dying for him would be too easy. He wants Harley to “live for him.” This comes off as a sinister endeavor until we later learn he guided her away from a greater threat than himself—namely herself.

Living up to the relationship’s narrative in the cartoon series, comics, and video games, the couple embraces the beauty of a dark symbiotic relationship—one filled with passion and violence—two of the most human of human platforms. He smacks her around when she starts to wander and she thanks him for setting her straight. At one point in the film, it looks as the though Harley might take off with a different guy. The Joker aptly shoots the guy in the face. In the end, it was all a collective ruse that illustrates their insane and one-of-a-kind love. Without Harley, The Joker is oddly organized (as depicted by his apartment when she is locked up—everything is neatly in order), devoid of the anarchic chaos in which his genius thrives. Until she proves her loyalty and devotion, he deems her “A pain in the ass.” (The Extended Cut shows, that à la the cartoon Harley of the 1990s, she’s basically the annoying girl who forces you to be her bf. “Got it; got it; got it…If you weren’t crazy, I’d think you were insane.” –The Joker responds to her pleading her case of undying loyalty to him.) But, closer toward the film’s end, Mr. J declares to his mad sidekick and true love: “Oh, you know, I’ll do anything for you.” Blue+Red=Purple; in this sense, Harley makes The Joker—rather than vice versa as it looks.

Other tidbits:

*With tracks by Kehlani, Skrillex and Rick Ross, and Twenty-One Pilots, Suicide Squad boasts perhaps the best mixed-artist soundtrack since that of Adam Wingard’s 2014 film The Guest.

*One of the film’s producers is Steve Mnuchin—U.S. President-Elect Trump’s choice for Secretary of the Treasury. Interesting.

*Will Smith’s character Deadshot has some of the film’s best lines: “And I’m the bad guy; that’s gansta.” “Stay evil doll face.” “…White people that thing.” “…There’s a lot of variables in the street.” Watch the movie for the context.

*In the film, one of the villains procures a secret Iranian weapons document for the U.S. Department of Defense. The binder containing the documents opens right to left as a binder with English-language left-to-right written pages would. Come on David Ayer, if it were an Iranian binder, the Farsi pages would read right to left, meaning the binder would open left to right. I’m surprised this got past such an exceptional detail-oriented director.