Having been briefly fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, Warner Bros jumped at the idea of James Gunn directing a DC movie. The Marvel filmmaker was given the freedom to choose what he’d like to cover from their vast comic book universe and settled on a sequel to 2016’s poorly received Suicide Squad. Gunn has even revealed that when he finished writing his turn on the supervillain team hired for US government missions to reduce prison time, he jokingly called it The Suicide Squad, only for the title to stick.
And from the opening scene of The Suicide Squad, Gunn’s blockbuster almost feels like a “scratch that, let’s try again” take on the story as Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller – a steely psychopathic M with a trigger finger – recruits her team of misfits for their latest deadly task.
And once again it’s Joel Kinnaman’s field leader Rick Flag heading up the group with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang back for more cartoony violence.
While Will Smith’s Deadshot didn’t return, Idris Elba’s Bloodsport is something of rebooted replacement as another imprisoned helmet-wearing assassin, who’s desperate to be reunited with his daughter.
But here is where the similarities with David Ayer’s Suicide Squad end, as Gunn breathes new life into the hit-or-miss DC franchise.
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But the scene-stealer has to be Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark, a fish-human hybrid who’s a little slow and can’t help eating people whole whenever he fancies some “num-num”.
This violent beast actually turns out to be quite the sweetheart in some of the film’s more heartfelt moments, which are also shared by Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2 and her very friendly rodent.
As for The Suicide Squad’s mission this time, the task force is sent to a South American island called Corto Maltese to destroy Jotunheim, a Nazi-era prison and laboratory.
To gain access the team must locate Peter Capaldi’s Gaius Grieves, an incredibly intelligent supervillain. As the story moves forwards they may also end up needing to defeat a giant alien starfish called Starro the Conqueror. Yes, it really is as bonkers as it sounds and it’s tremendous fun.
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Another prominent aspect of The Suicide Squad is its huge and outrageously violent action sequences inspired by 1970s war movies, that wouldn’t look out of place in a John Wick or Deadpool outing – so expect a lot of deaths from the go.
But like Robbie’s Harley Quinn solo film Birds of Prey, the bloody and brutal moments are more akin to live-action Itchy and Scratchy than anything real if there’s any particular concern from the more squeamish viewer.
Additionally, towards the end of the movie, there seems to have some subtextual themes commenting on American Imperialism and Guantanamo Bay, which were recently explored in the much more serious awards-season contender The Mauritanian.
But at the end of the day, The Suicide Squad is a big, loud, funny piece of popcorn entertainment that’s helping reboot cinema just as it has its own franchise.
The Suicide Squad hits UK cinemas on July 30 and US movies theatres on August 5, 2021.