Much like how The Purge: Anarchy fulfilled the promise of the flawed original movie, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is the movie the first Suicide Squad should have been, irreverent, violent, full of wacky D-list DC villains and it’s an absolute blast.
Task Force X is forced back into action by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and sent to the island of Corto Maltese to stop something called “Project Starfish”, a deadly experiment that threatens the globe. After a bloody opening salvo that kills most of the first team, the second team, led by Bloodsport (Idris Elba) is able to sneak onto the island undetected and proceed with their mission, which involves capturing The Thinker (Peter Capaldi), who spearheads the work on Project Starfish. The plot much improved over the first movie’s nonsense involving Enchantress and it’s told with a great pace that still leaves plenty of room for over-the-top, gory action, and great jokes and character beats. Gunn also brings his mixtape vibe that he brought to Guardians, with lots of classic licensed music fueling the action. Along with the absurdly gory and insane opening action sequence, there are tons of fantastic set pieces, like Harley (Margot Robbie) escaping from the Corto Maltese palace or Bloodsport and Peacemaker (John Cena) competing as they storm a jungle camp that seems right out of Predator. The movie does a great job of using everyone’s unique skills as well, with Bloodsport’s ever-changing arsenal, Ratcatcher 2’s (Daniela Melchior) control of rats or Polka Dot Man’s (David Dastmalchian) killer polka dots. It all builds to a great finale involving one of the most ridiculous DC villains in comic history that Gunn somehow turns into an effectively terrifying and dangerous threat.
The humor and heart that Gunn brought to the Guardians are definitely on display in The Suicide Squad. All the characters are much more fleshed out and likable than the first movie, where all the characters had the same sort of sludgy, Hot Topic style look and not really any distinct personality. Here, even characters who only have a small amount of screentime are able to make an impact, and characters like King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), Ratcatcher, and Polka Dot Man that you really get to spend time with you grow to love. Margot Robbie, given great material and great direction, is the best she’s ever been as Harley and really cements her definitive live-action take on the character. Other returning characters like Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag and Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller are also much more interesting than in the first movie, with Davis really leaning into the hatable “anything to complete the mission” mindset of Waller and Flag being a much looser and fun character than the grim, exposition machine of the first movie. Everyone in the movie is pretty fantastic although some, like Alice Braga as rebel leader Sol Soria don’t really have much to do and even though it’s true to the comics and pretty darkly hilarious, it would have been nice to spend a little more time with some of the lesser characters, like Michael Rooker’s Savant or Jai Courtney’s returning Captain Boomerang.
The Suicide Squad is easily one of the best DC movies since the DCEU (or whatever is now) launched and fixes one of the worst entries in the DCEU by being everything it should have been. It’s full of fun characters, great humor, gory action and it’s one of the best movies of the year.