The Suicide Squad – now on 4K disc – is a dark anti-super hero adventure
By Jim Bray
The Suicide Squad is the latest in the DC comics universe to come our way and, unfortunately, it suffers from the same fate as most DC Comics movies – it just isn't very good.
I could live with that, but it's worse than merely not being very good. It's very bad and it's also a lousy home theatre experience on 4K disc if you don't have the ambient room light controlled tightly.
Now, I managed to avoid the first Suicide Squad movie; Warner Home Video never sent me a screening sample and from what I'd seen and read about the film I didn't mind. This time, however, they did send a screener and, since it's the kind of movie I would like, normally, I felt obliged to sit through its interminable 132-minute running time.
Wish I hadn't! Naturally, your mileage may vary and according to some online reviews I've read, this James Gunn version of the franchise is just what the doctor ordered. Probably Dr. Fauci…
Anyway, James Gunn – whose last two movies before he was fired by Disney for alleged pedophilic tendencies were the exquisite Guardians of the Galaxy films – took over the franchise and you can see his fingerprints all over it, from the use of pop music from the past to the big special effects scenes, the latter of which is a climactic Godzilla-like urban trash-fest that's kind of reminiscent to the opening of Guardians 2, where a big scary space monster is threatening to wreak typical movie havoc.
Actually, I thought that was the best part of the movie because it was fun, it was well done, and because it was finally bright enough to see properly.
The Suicide Squad is kind of an "anti-Guardians" thing – more like Guardians meets The Dirty Dozen because, while Guardians was populated by misfits, Suicide Squad is populated by misfit criminals who are offered a chance at redemption if they go on a "Mission Impossible-like" caper.
They're called Task Force X and are tasked (no pun intended, right?) with infiltrating a fictional South American island nation to destroy a Nazi-era lab and the research it has gathered over the decades.
Along for the ride are Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, whose performance is one of the best things about this movie) and their team leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). Not enough super-anti-heroes for you? How about King Shark (a human/shark critter voiced by Sylvester Stallone) and Polka Dot Man (his power is hurling lethal polka dots, and I'm not kidding).
And there are others, but who cares?
Not surprisingly, the plan they're supposed to follow blows up in their faces, leaving us open for even more mayhem and over the top gore and, well, tedium.
I won't spoil any more of the plot in case you plan to see the movie. As for me, I'm waiting anxiously for Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
The 4K disc package also includes a Blu-ray and a code for a digital download. I didn't audition the picture and sound quality of the Blu-ray, but when you can actually make out the 4K picture on that disc, the video quality is outstanding – just as it should be.
Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10+, the UHD picture offers gorgeous detail and colours, but again, if you don't have your room light right, a lot of the movie is wasted. I made the mistake of watching it in my home theatre during an afternoon (because my wife REALLY didn't want to see it, I watched it when she wasn't around) and there were long, long stretches of the film – night scenes, indoors, etc. – during which I might as well have shut off my TV and only listened to it.
I am not exaggerating! And I haven't seen any other reviews mention this, so maybe it's me. But I don't think so; my video equipment is pretty state of the art, from a 75-inch Samsung QLED to OPPO's top line 4K disk player. I admit freely to the room light issue, but have watched many other movies under the same circumstances, including 4K HDR titles, and never has it been this obvious.
On the other hand, from what I was hearing on the audio track, I wasn't too upset (other than the fact that I was wasting time and audio/video technology) that I couldn't see everything.
That said, the audio quality – Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD – is first rate. Unlike some Warner titles I've mentioned, the bass isn't overwhelming but it is tight and clean and, well, dynamic. Just like the rest of the frequencies. This is a soundtrack you'll probably want to play loud so it immerses you in the outrageous audio, which will give your home theatre a very nice workout.
I'm surprised the neighbours didn't complain! Maybe, since I was watching this in the afternoon, they were all at work. Lucky them!
There's also a pretty generous set of extras, if you haven't had enough just by watching the film. Most are on the Blu-ray, which is fine because that leaves the 4K disc freer to just handle the movie's file size and bandwidth.
There's a gag reel, a "Gotta love the Squad" featurette, another one on James Gunn ("The Way of the Gunn") and some scene breakdowns. There's another one on the big starfish, another on King Shark, some retro trailers, and some deleted and/or extended scenes. And if you want to get inside the head of writer/director Gunn, there's a commentary track as well.
I may be in the minority in finding this movie an unfortunate waste of time, since I haven't really seen anyone who agrees with me. But obviously everyone else is wrong – and isn't that the story of my life?
Mr. Gunn: I love your Guardians of the Galaxy movies and I'll watch them over and over again (I own them), and I hope your third kick at that particular can is worthy of the first two.
But as for The Suicide Squad, I couldn't wait for it to end.
It's kind of analogous to the overall Marvel vs. DC movie libraries. Marvel has a, well, marvelous track record at making enjoyable comic book movies. DC's record is mostly of failures with only a few recent successes (the first Wonder Woman, Aquaman…) being the exceptions.
It's a shame.
Copyright 2021 Jim Bray