Blurring the line between sequel, reboot and remake, The Suicide Squad fairly leaps off the screen with something too often conspicuously absent from the DC Cinematic Universe: a sense of fun. Written and directed by James Gunn after his famous firing from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy series (and before he was rehired), The Suicide Squad gleefully embraces excess in every way imaginable. It’s rated R for its gore, language, and nudity, yet seldom misses an opportunity to pause and appreciate the absurdity of it all—a drastic tonal shift from its joyless 2016 predecessor, simply titled “Suicide Squad.”
Once again, bottom-of-the-barrel bad guys and gals are recruited for a long-odds mission in exchange for time shaved off their prison sentences. Now they’re headed to the South American nation of Corto Maltese to destroy a top-secret installation housing the mysterious Project Starfish, but boss Amanda Waller (Oscar winner Viola Davis) isn’t giving her team the whole story. Idris Elba stars as Bloodsport, a.k.a. definitely-not-Will-Smith’s-Deadshot-from-the-last-Squad, although the similarities are staggering. He’s the reluctant leader of a strike force that also counts mistress of rodents Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), the murderously patriotic Peacemaker (John Cena), and psychotic psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) among its numbers. Let the bonding, betrayal, and mayhem begin!
The Suicide Squad is presented at a curious 1.9:1 aspect ratio that utilizes black bars at the top and bottom which are noticeably thicker what you see with the more common 1.85:1 cinema standard. Captured digitally and finished at 4K—with some scenes shot at up to 8K—the picture displays a surprising organic warmth and an unsurprising crystal-clarity in both real-world nuances such as pores and wrinkles as well as more fantastical bits like the texture and sheen of King Shark’s skin. In one of my favorite shots, the squad members emerge slowly from a thick wall of white dust, without a trace of halo or ringing. The Dolby Vision HDR works wonders with the image, particularly the nighttime sequences when small patches of brightness cut through the inky dark, or when the multi-hued thingies on The Thinker’s noggin really pop in a smoky nightclub scene. Colors dazzle across the board, particularly in the distinctive green walls of the presidential palace, the deadly Skittles of Polka-Dot Man’s unique super-power, and even a certain vibrant pink and blue monster set against drab military uniforms and locations. And of course the blood…so much blood.
There’s no shortage of destruction in The Suicide Squad, and the Dolby Atmos soundtrack celebrates every hunk of debris in motion. Explosions and crashes go right for the gut with ample LFE, gunshots and punches have a palpable crack, while rain and thunder play well in the overhead speakers. In one particularly creepy moment late in the story, a group of prisoners in an elaborate cage moan all around us to chilling effect. Gunn is true to his trademark fondness for pop tunes, which are mixed and integrated well here. The Suicide Squad will be perfectly enjoyable at a typical volume level, but cranking it loud makes it even more awesome.
The 4K disc carries an audio commentary with the enthusiastic Mr. Gunn, along with one of the four scene breakdowns that can be found on the bundled regular HD Blu-ray of the movie. Here you’ll also find eight deleted/extended scenes, an equally mature-audience gag reel, and several brief behind-the-scenes featurettes. A 4K Movies Anywhere digital copy code is provided, unlocking these video extras in addition to an exclusive music clip.
The Suicide Squad was another of Warner’s day-and-date theatrical/HBO Max releases for 2021, and so it might not have gotten all of the attention it deserved. It’s not a perfect film, certainly, with logic that sometimes strains credibility and plot detours that hinder the pacing, but this is one of the best examples yet of comic-book hyper-reality brought to life with verve, panache, and no apologies.
Ultra HD Blu-ray
Studio: Warner, 2021
Aspect ratio: 1.90:1
HDR Format: Dolby Vision, HDR10+
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
Length: 132 mins.
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Daniela Melchior, Viola Davis