Bloody good ‘Suicide Squad’ makes comic book movies fun again
The James Gunn-directed superhero flick is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max
Wow, Hollywood is getting lazy. The sequel to “Suicide Squad” can’t come up with a better title than just adding “the” to the beginning? Hello? Did anyone even think of “Suicide Squad 2”?
Kidding, of course! “The Suicide Squad” is a standalone sequel that bears little connection to the forgettable first attempt to take this comic to the big screen, aside from a shared cast.
And in the irreverent hands of director James Gunn, this “Suicide Squad” hurdles a decidedly low bar to be one of the most fun D.C. superhero movies ever. It’s only real competition being the somehow still underrated “Shazam!”
Gunn helms a talented cast in a movie that is masterful in not taking itself too seriously, finally delivering a “Deadpool” equivalent on the D.C. side of the superhero spectrum. It takes a very “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” approach with a wild opening that I won’t spoil here.
The premise gets a deft, no-frills setup as government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of super-villains for a dangerous mission. How do you keep super-villains from being all villainy? You implant a bomb in them that you detonate if they don’t follow orders.
The team is lead by expert marksman Bloodsport (Idris Elba). He’s a reluctant leader drawn into the mission by a threat to imprison his teenage daughter over a minor offense. His team includes prototypical action hero Peacemaker (John Cena), beloved psycho Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and half-man, half-shark King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone).
The team is dropped in the island nation of Corto Maltese on a seek-and-destroy mission to take out a secretive lab housing a living weapon that’s not of this world.
Gunn, who also wrote the script, takes a big budget and makes some big fun. The cast seems to be enjoying themselves just as much as audiences will.
The writer/director chose some deep-dive characters here, such as Polka Dot Man (delightfully played by David Dastmalchian), allowing him to make a movie that’s based on a comic without the weight of depicting well-known characters.
Actors such as Elba and Davis bring some serious dramatic chops to the table, but this is decidedly an action-comedy with everyone bringing great chemistry and sharp timing.
Gunn implements a narrative that hops around time to mixed effect, hitting some rough patches in the third act before a really fun boss fight at the end. In fact, much of “The Suicide Squad” gives off a video game feel. It’s decidedly R-rated thanks to lots of over-the-top, bloody violence.
Here’s a hot take for you: I had more fun in this movie than either of Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” films.
While the MCU was delightfully ambitious in its overlap, it’s refreshing to have a comic-book movie that can truly stand on its own.
“The Suicide Squad”
Now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max
4 stars out of 5