“The Suicide Squad” lands on home video so it’s time for a deep dive into discomfort.

Like all things given time, the way we look at movies shifts. After my first viewing of writer/director James Gunn’s (Slither) The Suicide Squad, I found myself entertained, but not quite sold. Choices felt odd in their presentation, violence seemed just for the sake of violence, and some of the stunt choreography appeared less kinetic than in some of the recent solo outings for the characters. Then I watched it again (Thank you, HBO Max!) and now, again, on home video, and this film has entirely snuck up on me as a strangely joyful experience, one which I want to rewatch for the sake of comfort. As we’ve witnessed before from Gunn, he has a way of making the assholes of the galaxy beloved, so there should be little shock we’d feel the same about the worst villains of the worst. Even more so, we shouldn’t be shocked that he managed to subvert our own expectations so that we’d begin to consider who the bad guys really are when we watch a superhero flick. No one is entirely free of bloodied-hands in The Suicide Squad, yet it may surprise those willing to give a think on the juvenile violence within the film, looking past it to consider just how guilty we all are for the cost of freedoms we think we deserve.

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L-R: Nathan Fillion as T.D.K., Pete Davidson as Blackguard, Sean Gunn as Weasel, Michael Rooker as Savant, Joel Kinnaman as Colonel Rick Flag, Jai Courtney as Boomerang, Flula Borg as Javelin, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and Mayling Ng as Mongal in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure THE SUICIDE SQUAD, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

When a coup takes place in Corto Maltese, Task Force X commander Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) activates two units to enter the country, go to science facility Jotunheim run by Doctor Gaius Grieves (a.k.a. Thinker) (Peter Capaldi), and head to the extraction point. It’s a fairly straight-forward mission, but, as usual with Waller, nothing is ever as it seems and, being comprised of villains, Task Force X is not bound to follow orders to the letter. With information minimum due to “need to know,” this so-called suicide squad may just earn their nickname as the odds of survival tick down to zero with each passing moment.

If you’d like to learn about The Suicide Squad without spoilers, head over to the initial HBO Max/theatrical review. Moving forward there will be discussion of specific details from the film.

If one were to go about their lives without considering how they formed in the way they have, they might just presume that things are the way that are because they are. The truth is often more difficult to absorb. You are where you are and things are the way they are because of the choices of others. Sometimes those choices resulted in battles, announced or in secret, which saw heavy losses by one side and the other claiming victory leading to historical indifference. This is a long way of saying that the America we live in is as much a result of the honest wins (World War II against the Axis Powers) as it is slavery, the birth of law enforcement out of the KKK, the recruitment of immigrants to build up our nation only to create laws to deny them rights, failure to uphold agreements with Indigenous peoples, redlining, and many other ways in which those without a Caucasian façade have suffered in serve of America. It’s because of all this that the complaints against Gunn’s Suicide Squad make sense. Did he really need to kill so many Brown faces, use them as narrative fodder for the potential amusement of the audience? When the topic of the film was broached by a neighbor and I mentioned this, the response was, “but it’s just a movie.” True. It is a movie in which fictional characters battle against other fictional characters on a fictional island in South America based off a storyline from 1986. But it’s also true that there’s damage done to the audience watching so many innocent die. This, though, is where I will come to the defense of a man who needs none: the key part of the previous statement is “innocent.” The scene in question takes place when the surviving Task Force X members go to rescue Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) from what they think are bad guys. So focused are Peacemaker (John Cena) and Bloodsport (Idris Elba) with who’s the better killer (a competition of toxic masculinity) that it’s not until the end of the sequence that they (and the audience) learn that Flagg was saved by allies, not the enemy. Everyone they killed without remorse was a “good guy.” This scene challenges the audience to consider what amuses them, delights them, sends them into giggle fits because we shouldn’t be rooting for them. The cast is charismatic and the dialogue delivered with pizzazz, but we should not be taking any kind of comfort in their actions. It’s as much a gift that Gunn can deliver such content with such ease, but it comes with a tainted center which, whether you believe it or not, you may just want to consider once you’re done reminiscing on the hilarity. The Suicide Squad is a dark film, truly and completely, and that so few miss amid the appearance of Starro and the betrayal to the team by Peacemaker that the true villain is Waller and her protection of American interests, no matter the causality count. It’s a ballsy move and one that I think is underappreciated amid a film that’s otherwise gleeful in its mayhem without ever losing sight of who the bad guy is. You think it’s really Starro? Just before his demise, he tells Task Force X that he was happy floating among the stars. He was at peace until American astronauts brought him into their ship and tied him up as a trophy. It’s a not-so subtle way to highlight that the downfall of a nation might be its stalwart belief in its own exceptionalism.

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L-R: Joel Kinnaman as Colonel RicK Flag, Alice Braga as Sol Soria, Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2, King Shark, Idris Elba as Bloodsport, and John Cena as Peacemaker in Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero action adventure THE SUICIDE SQUAD, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

How did a movie with a talking shark, murderous weasel, and team of sociopathic murders become the means of starting a conversation on reevaluating our priorities? Seems like exactly what one should expect from the writer/director behind one of the most ridiculous and poignant MCU films to date: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2. (2017).

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L-R: King Shark, Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2, Joel Kinnaman as Colonel Rick Flag, Idris Elba as Bloodsport, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, John Cena as Peacemaker, Peter Capaldi as Thinker, David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man, and Julio Cesar Ruiz as Milton in Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero action adventure THE SUICIDE SQUAD, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

But maybe you’ve come to this review for more information on the home release itself rather than reading a diatribe about how Americans specifically need to reconsider their reactions to the world around them. That you? Then you’ll be delighted to learn that the home release comes with bonus features which, while being different based on format, help extend the cinematic experience. The DVD has the least of the features, including only the near-eight minute featurette “The Way of the Gunn” which highlights how Gunn works from the design process to being on set. Since I was sent a physical review copy with digital code, I noticed that no bonus features were available via MoviesAnywhere and accessing via iTunes only gave access to “The Way of the Gunn,” the 10 minute gag reel, and the 17+ minute deleted/extended scenes footage. Prior to digital availability, a four-minute gag reel was made available and the additional six minutes is highly entertaining. Do keep in mind that just as the film is rated-R, the gag reel does contain material for mature audiences and is hilarious. As for the deleted/extended scenes, you can’t pick and choose, but can only press play and ride it out. The included material adds new dimensions to the film by clearly laying out why Flagg was with the disposable unit sent to Corto Maltese, explains how The Thinker hurt his ear, and adds some additional sweetness to the deadly Nanaue. If you already dig the film, this set of cut scenes will only increase your appreciation, though it makes sense why these were removed: pacing, runtime, etc. At the time of this writing, it’s unclear if any of the other bonus features included with the physical release will be made available digitally once it hits shelves, so make sure to do your research before presuming the digital edition includes everything.

On disc, buyers are treated to feature-film commentary from Gunn, four unique scene breakdowns, a focus on Starro, a focus on both Task Force X units, and the various trailers created to promote the theatrical release. All of these featurettes work together to create a mosaic of how films are made. If you think making movies are just about the cast, writing, and direction, the consumption of these featurettes will certainly change that perception. Especially as so many believe that Hollywood as an entity to itself is comprised of only highly paid individuals, this collection of featurettes goes to show just how much coordination between various departments – stunt, costume, production/set design, visual effects, and more – takes place in order before a single frame is shot.

As I stated in my initial review, there’s an underlying *yuck* to The Suicide Squad and it should make you uncomfortable. It shouldn’t matter that these are fictional people, there are committing incredible violence in the name of preserving American assets. It’s not just that our government has a shadow unit comprised of villains, but it’s a shadow unit comprised of villains whose deaths are just a finger-press away should Waller or her team view the actions of Task Force X to be against orders. It’s entirely screwed up and, in Gunn’s hands, it’s perversely entertaining — just like the comics. If there’s a comic title which would make for continued adventures that might challenge its audience further, it’s this one. If we’re lucky, we’ll be following Bloodsport, Ratcatcher 2, Harley, and the others for a while, though odds are against them and Gunn wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Suicide Squad Blu-ray Special Features:

  • Directors Commentary by Director/Writer James Gunn
  • Gag Reel (10:23)
  • Gotta Love the Squad (11:38)
  • The Way of the Gunn (7:50)
  • Scene Breakdown
    • It’s a Suicide Mission Scene Breakdown (6:37)
    • My Guns Bigger Than Yours Scene Breakdown (5:44)
    • Harley’s Great Escape Scene Breakdown (7:17)
    • The Fall of Jotunheim Scene Breakdown (5:38)
  • Starro: It’s a Freakin Kaiju! (6:17)
  • Bringing King Shark To Life (5:40)
  • Trailers
    • War Movie Retro Trailer
    • Horror Movie Retro Trailer
    • Buddy-Cop Retro Trailer
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (17:28)

The Suicide Squad DVD Special Features:

  • The Way of the Gunn (7:50)

The Suicide Squad iTunes Special Features:

  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (17:28)
  • Gag Reel (10:23)
  • The Way of the Gunn (7:50)

Available on digital September 17th, 2021.

Available on 4k UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD October 26th, 2021.

For more information, head to WB Pictures’s official The Suicide Squad website.



Categories: Films To Watch, Home Release, Recommendation

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