Review – A Sequel To Die For (“The Suicide Squad”)

This is a rarity: a reboot/sequel released just five years after its original, that not only bears practically the same title, but wants to you ignore how bad the original was. Who does that? Writer and director James Gunn of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, that’s who!

If you saw the flawed 2016 Suicide Squad, you already know the set-up: Belle Reve penitentiary is home to really bad supervillains: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) from the first film, plus some new baddies, like Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), ego-maniacal Peacemaker (John Cena), lethal killer Bloodsport (Iris Elba), Rat Catcher II (Daniella Melchoir), who can summon rats, King Shark/Nanaue (voiced by Sly Stallone), a shark/human mutant hybrid, a CGI evil Weasel creature (Sean Gunn), and a bunch of other assorted meta-humans, all kept in check by the über-strict director, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis).

Also making a return is Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a devoted soldier keeping these inmates in line. Now dubbed Task Force X, there’s no Joker or Enchantress to deal with this time, instead, there are dastardly goings-on in the South American island of Corto Maltese. As the A & B teams are sent in, we lose about half our heroes in the first ten minutes! Yikes! In a flashback, we learn why they’re there: gruesome and unearthly experiments are being carried out in Jotunheim, a long-lost Nazi prison on that island. The plan? Find some guy called the Thinker (Peter Capaldi) who can get them inside the prison and then blow it all up. Sound’s easy, huh? Yeah. Right.

With side trips to a nightclub, a freedom-fighter camp run by Sol Soria (Alice Braga), and threats from Waller (remember, they have micro-bombs implanted in their heads so they don’t escape), only a handful are left to carry out the mission. Then Harley gets herself captured by the nefarious General Vera (Gerardo Davila) after causing a ruckus. But the gang needn’t worry about her, she can escape on her own just fine (one of the film’s best scenes). Upon reaching the super tall building, they run into a huge problem. . . an extraterrestrial creature called Starro, a Godzilla-sized multi-colored starfish that is not only powerful, but shoots out mini-starfish that attach to your face, controlling your mind like the Borg! Uh-oh!!

Now, I know David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad was butchered by the studios and wasn’t what he had in mind, so I’m happy to report this movie is everything that writer/director James Gunn set out to do, being given the green light from Warner Bros for all his hard R-rated mayhem, blood, gore, and LOL bodies exploding. Based on the comic book, Gunn is giving the fanboys exactly what they wanted, a comic book come alive love-letter complete with a plethora of expendable heroes, plenty of LOL moments, and an action-adventure that everyone wished the first movie had. But, really, it all boils down to mischievous Margot Robbie and intense Idris Elba who are at the center of this craziness.

Robbie’s Harley Quinn is so off-the-wall, bat-spit crazy, you can’t help but root for her; she has made this character forever hers. Idris Elba plays Bloodsport much like Will Smith’s Deadshot, a team leader & father with a serious agenda. The others are just as impressive: John Cena is funny as the kill-crazy Peacemaker, Daniella Melchoir’s tragic Ratcatcher II is passionate and, along with Kinneman, have some very nice moments. But look out for Viola Davis as Amanda Waller! She commands every scene with such ferocity it’s scary. It’s been five years, but it’s been SO worth the wait! James Gunn has delivered a bloody good (and I DO mean that literally & figuratively) movie that is hilarious, grisly, filled with action, carnage, and comic book hijinks come to life, and has Gunn’s outrageous playfulness in direction. Do NOT miss this!

**Now showing in theaters and streaming on HBOMax

Suicide Squad (2016)

A highly anticipated comic book legend brought to life, Suicide Squad boasted a Dirty Dozen-ish plot full of truly bad villains set on a task to earn their freedom IF they’d help the government destroy another super-baddy. It’s an age-old story, but they added the Joker into the mix just to sweeten the deal.

After Superman’s (alleged) death in Batman v Superman, government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) decides the U.S. must enlist a suicide squad of villains in case something really bad happens. Guess what? Something really bad happens! Archeologist Dr. June Moore (Cara Delevingne), who can turn into the evil spirit witch, The Sorceress, has unwittingly unleashed her villainous spirit Inca-like brother, Incubus. Together they ravage Midway City, turning ordinary citizens into monsters/warriors, as they try to destroy the world.   

Waller, along with her partner, Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinneman), get super-villains who are locked away in a maximum prison because of their, shall we say, special talents. They are criminally insane Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), lethal assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), spiky cannibal Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and fire-master gang-banger, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez). Combine them with curved-weapon criminal Boomerang (Jai Courtney), samurai warrior Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and rope-master Slipknot, and you’ve got a team. AND for insurance, a small explosive is implanted inside their neck, in case they misbehave.

But after being attacked by weird, bulbous-headed thingys, they’re not so sure about their job. After Waller is kidnapped by Incubus, Deadshot makes the discovery that they’re fighting supernatural creatures and the team decides they don’t like being lied to. But after a hearty pep talk, off they go to kill Incubus and The Sorceress and save to the planet, with just a brief interruption by the Clowned Prince of Crime, The Joker (Jared Leto in all of his shocking lime-green hair and white skin) who wants his sweetheart, Harley, back at any cost.

The rousing finale has the bad guys squaring off against even badder guys, as the ending gives you a nice callback to the beginning, plus an open ending to a possible sequel (which will never happen–sorta). You also get an extended cameo by Ben Affleck as Batman and Ezra Miller in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameo as The Flash. Be prepared for a plethora of backstories and flashbacks that saturate the movie, along with scattershot storytelling by writer/director David Ayer, but it wasn’t all his fault.

After all the stories you’ve no doubt heard about the controversy surrounding making of this movie, how the studios took the movie away from Ayers and chopped it up, much like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Overall, yes, it does have some problems with continuity, as scenes are spliced together too quickly and it stuff seems out of place from some editing mis-matches. Yet, despite these problems, the storyline has alot of fun to it and holds your interest from the characters that inhabit it. Aside from its hiccups, the movie really belongs to stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Both deliver the best lines, have the most screen time, and their performances are the highlights of the movie by far.

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