The Suicide Squad gets a much needed re-do that succeeds by not taking itself too seriously.
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad exists as not quite a sequel and not quite a reboot but manages to rejuvenate the concept after 2016’s Suicide Squad underwhelmed. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is one of three returning squad members (with Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang) alongside a slew of new villains. Still controlled by Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller, the villains are off to do a smaller mission than last time. No world-ending event, just some classic destabilization of a South American country.
The squad is much-expanded for this round as well. Idris Elba joins as de facto leader Bloodsport. King Shark (a shark/human hybrid) is voiced by Sly Stallone. Peacemaker (John Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Savant (Michael Rooker), Weasel (Sean Gunn), Blackguard (Pete Davison), TDK (Nathan Fillion), Javelin (Flula Borg), and Mongal (Mayling Ng) round out the motley crew. With no spoilers, let’s look at the good, the not as good, and the standout performances.
This movie does a much better job at getting you invested in these characters than the original Suicide Squad. By the end of the film, you’re actively rooting for the rag-tag group of characters in their mission. Considering we only know three of these members from the previous movie, it’s quite the feat to develop such a strong connection in only two hours.
The balance of comedy and drama is incredible throughout. None of the comedic bits feel out of place or even too over the top. One of the issues of 2016’s Suicide Squad was that the light parts felt jammed in and out of place. Here, the comedy acts as needed breaks from the ongoing story.
The action scenes are top-notch, as you’d expect from a major superhero flick. Two scenes stand out in particular. The first is a pissing contest between Peacemaker and Bloodsport as they infiltrate a camp. Who can get the most badass kills? (Both, apparently). The other is Harley Quinn’s main action scene through a Corto Maltese palace. We know that Quinn can kick-ass, but the scene still showed her skills while the cinematography gives it a flare very specific to her style.
The Not As Good:
If you’re not a fan of gore, then this is not the superhero movie for you. This one doesn’t shy away from blood and guts. The action starts early and gets graphic, so just don’t expect the MCU level of gore. It’s way beyond that.
The movie does run a bit long, clocking in at 2 hours and 13 minutes. There are some scenes that run a little long and a few places that are lulls. Still, if you’re engaged with the action then these feel more like reprieves instead of bores.
Viola Davis: Is it a shock to say Davis was excellent in something? No, of course not. There’s a reason she has an Oscar and an Emmy. Davis commands attention every time she is on the screen in The Suicide Squad, ordering around the Task Force X members and being willing to do anything to get the job done. She is one of the best actors of a generation, and she eats every single minute she’s on-screen.
John Cena: The average person knows absolutely nothing about Peacemaker, but within the course of the movie Cena manages to bring him to life perfectly. He’s cocky, he’s brash, and he’s got a mission. “I cherish peace with all my heart. I don’t care how many men, women, and children I kill to get it.” Cena has stolen scenes before in Trainwreck and Blockers, and he does even more here. There’s a great mix of comedy and seriousness to his role.
David Dastmalchian: A man who shoots polka dots is the dumbest power you could think of, right? Well, Dastmalchian manages to give his character depth and a beautiful arc over the course of the film. I was cheering for Polka-Dot Man throughout, wanting him to do nothing more than unleash those dots on people.
Daniela Melchior: The emotional core of this movie, Ratcatcher 2 manages to turn a strange power into a charming character. She can control rats with her machines. Sounds gross, right? Well, it happens to be very effective and handy. Her scenes and interactions with Bloodsport and King Shark provide some of the best emotional moments of the movie.
4/5 Stars – The Suicide Squad manages to do what the first one failed to do, which has you fall in love with a group of no-name characters and have you cheer for their success. James Gunn has a proven track record of it (hello, Guardians of the Galaxy) and he knocks it out of the park again.