With superhero movies, the rule of thumb seems to be: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
The first “Suicide Squad” was a bland, chaotic mess that took itself a touch too seriously and wound up being intensely forgettable.
But for the kind-of-a-sequel, kind-of-a-reboot “The Suicide Squad” (note the “The”), Warner Bros. handed the keys to writer/director James Gunn who works with chaotic messes the way other great artists might work with watercolors.
Taking the premise of supervillains forced to do good and bringing the same sensibility he used to make “The Guardians of the Galaxy” a surprise hit, Gunn also reaches back to his low-budget-horror days to work in as much splatter and gore as one can fit into a rated-R spectacle.
Thus, “The Suicide Squad” is juvenile fun of the highest measure with just the tiniest bit of heart to make you not feel like a complete degenerate for reveling in all the onscreen carnage.
Back from the first time around are the ridiculous Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), actual good guy Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Knnaman), mission ringleader Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and everybody’s favorite unhinged girlfriend Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, who has so much fun with part I suspect she’ll be playing Harley into her 80s).
Leading our reluctant heroes this time around is Bloodsport (the great Idris Elba who makes everything better) and among those joining the mission, plucked from the shallowest end of the pool of DC villains, are overzealous, try-hard Peacemaker (John Cena), slothful, Gen-Z animal whisperer Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), anthropomorphic half-man, half-great-white King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone no less) and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) who, well, shoots polka-dots at people. The A-Team this is not.
Their doomed mission involves infiltrating the fictional island nation of Corto Maltese where all kinds of hyper-violent, comic book silliness ensues
Gunn smartly leans into the odd-ball characters, letting their mismatched personalities play off of one another for laughs. You can also tell he revels (maybe a little too much) in being free of the PG-13 training wheels he’s forced to deal with over at Marvel.
Is this a perfect film? No, far from it. But “The Suicide Squad” is exactly what it set out to be, which is mindless, gleeful entertainment. After the year we’ve had, that’ awful hard to argue with. Plus, you can get in on the ground floor of what is sure to be King Shark mania! Nom-nom indeed.
“The Suicide Squad” is rated R for strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity.