The Suicide Squad: James Gunn Brings the Goods Yet Again (Blu-ray)


The Film:


Just five years ago, writer/director David Ayer attempted to bring DC Comics' ragtag group of antiheroes to the big screen with his adaptation of "Suicide Squad." Sadly, the film was quite the disaster, becoming nothing more than a calamitous mess of action and flat characters that couldn't be saved even by its talented cast (including Margot Robbie, Will Smith, and Viola Davis). Realizing that the property still had potential, it's no wonder that Warner Bros. and DC wanted to try again rather quickly, this time recruiting writer/director James Gunn, who had already had great success in the MCU with his two "Guardians of the Galaxy" films. It was clear that he had talent when it came to this type of material, but would he be able to succeed where Ayer had failed?


"The Suicide Squad" (differentiating it slightly from the previous effort) begins with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruiting a group of inmates to go on a mission in return for reducing their sentences. They are sent to the island of Corto Maltese, where a coup has instated an anti-American regime. Their mission is to destroy a laboratory containing a secret experiment known as "Project Starfish." However, we quickly find out that the first group (including Rick Flag (Greg Kinnaman) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie)) was a mere diversion, and that a second group, consisting of Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark (Voice of Sylvester Stallone), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), is the real force meant to undertake the mission. As they proceed with their insanely dangerous quest, they come to realize that there is more going on than they've been told.


When it came to Ayer's cinematic iteration of the material, it became quite obvious that he simply didn't have a good grasp of the characters and didn't quite know how to write for them, so it comes as no surprise that for the second attempt, the powers behind the film wanted to bring in someone who had already proven to have a handle on how to write for somewhat wacky and strange characters, a talent that we see continue from the very start of James Gunn's "The Suicide Squad." Not only does Gunn deliver a much more satisfying plot, but the humor is also much better, ultimately giving the material the exact tone that it deserves.


The only real complaint plot-wise is a somewhat inconsistent pacing that sees the film start off in a rather exciting fashion as the groups are assembled, briefed, and begin their mission, but then there's a portion of the film (30-ish minutes or so) that feels as though it kind of shuts down for a while. Luckily, this doesn't last too long, picking back up for a thrilling final act that delivers a satisfying and action-packed climax.


Speaking of delivering the action, that's another area where Gunn excels. Many of the action sequences here are quite stunning (would you expect a group nicknamed "The Suicide Squad" to go through anything less?), especially when it comes to its insane third act confrontations. You may recall that the action in Ayer's version came off as very bland, merely turning it into an uninspired, numbing mess. However, as he's proven before, Gunn has a much better handle on it, giving it the wild thrills that comic book fans are looking for in these cinematic adaptations.


Overall, there's no doubt that James Gunn was the right person to bring in to adapt this kind of material. It's a definite improvement over the disaster from a few years ago, infusing exciting action, great characters, and lots of humor into a highly entertaining flick. It may have a slight pacing issue in the middle, but it more than makes up for it with its captivating first and third acts. As fans patiently wait over the next couple of years for Gunn's next "Guardians" installment, we can only hope that the rumors of him continuing to contribute to the heavily-troubled DC cinematic universe are true. He certainly knows his stuff, and another outing with these or different characters from the pages of DC Comics would most definitely be welcome.


Video/Audio:


"The Suicide Squad" comes to Blu-ray in a 1.90:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. The picture is perfectly crisp throughout, allowing you to witness all of the action-packed mayhem exactly as intended. Likewise, the Dolby Atmos-TrueHD audio track is fantastic, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and soundtrack in pristine quality. Overall, it's quite easy to say that the film delivers magnificently in both areas.


Special Features:


Gag Reel (10 Minutes)

Gotta Love the Squad (12 Minutes)

The Way of The Gunn (8 Minutes)

It’s a Suicide Mission Scene Breakdown (7 Minutes)

My Guns Bigger Than Yours Scene Breakdown (6 Minutes)

Harley’s Great Escape Scene Breakdown (7 Minutes)

The Fall of Jotunheim Scene Breakdown (6 Minutes)

Starro: It’s a Freakin Kaiju! (6 Minutes)

Bringing King Shark To Life (6 Minutes)

War Movie Retro Trailer (3 Minutes)

Horror Movie Retro Trailer (1 Minute)

Buddy-Cop Retro Trailer (1 Minute)

Directors Commentary by Director/Writer James Gunn

Deleted & Extended Scenes (17 Minutes)


The Blu-ray release comes with a ton of great extras, including multiple behind-the-scenes featurettes that delve into specific sequences and the general making of the film, a hefty selection of deleted/extended scenes, an amusing collection of outtakes, and a fantastic commentary with James Gunn himself that gives you even more insider info about the film. Simply put, there's more than enough in these 90+ minutes of goodies to please any fan.


Conclusion:


James Gunn's "The Suicide Squad" represents a considerable improvement over David Ayer's disastrous 2016 film, infusing exciting action, great characters, and lots of humor into a highly entertaining flick, and once again showing Gunn's remarkably skilled handling of comic book material. It may have slight pacing issues, and be a little long at 132 minutes, but there's definitely more than enough here to make up for its shortcomings.


Score: 3.5/5


Now available on Blu-ray/DVD.


Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.



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