The Suicide Squad

This DC sequel flips off the original.

The original DC action film “Suicide Squad” from 2016 was a missed opportunity, in which writer/director David Ayer tried to channel in on the success of James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” from Marvel. The worst thing about it to me was how Jared Leto had to make Joker look like a pimp with the most predictable cliche-he survives the helicopter crash. Yes, I know I keep complaining about it, but that twist is really exhausting. Nonetheless, it was a financial hit, probably because of the power of Warner Bros and popularity of Will Smith and Margot Robbie among its a-list cast.

Now, we have the sequel “The Suicide Squad” (notice how it uses “The” in the title), this time, written and directed by Gunn, who takes no prisoners in making it better than the first. He succeeds, because it’s not only better than the first, but it’s also more fearless and ballsy than the first. It’s rated R, so it takes its violence and comedy to new heights, but unlike “Hellboy” and “Mortal Kombat,” it isn’t tedious or mean-spirited. It has everything “Suicide Squad” wanted to have, but didn’t.

Will Smith is out, but Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn, along with Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Joel Kinnaman as Colonel Rick Flagg, and Jai Courtney as Boomerang. This time, Harley and Rick are both joined by the assassin Bloodsport (Idris Elba), whose daughter (Storm Reid) is on the line, the Peacemaker (John Cena), who ironically uses violence to restore peace, the Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), who can kill people with polka dots (duh), Ratcatcher’s daughter Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), who can control and communicate with rats (the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree), and the hungry and lonely King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone and played by Steve Agee).

Their mission: to stop the Mexican government from unleashing a mutant starfish (Starro) on the world. And they need the Thinker (Peter Capaldi), a super genius implicated with the bad guys, to get closer to them.

Their condition: if they break the rules, Waller activates the explosive devices implanted in the back of their skulls. But if they succeed, they get a decade off their prison sentences.

The movie’s star-studded cast also includes Alice Braga as the lead of a resistance group, Pete Davidson as the goofball mercenary Blackguard, Nathan Fillion as T.D.K., who can detach his levitating arms (The Detaching Kid), Michael Rooker as the computer hacker Savant, Sean Gunn (James’ younger brother and collaborator) as the freaky Weasel, Flura Borg as the javelin thrower Javelin, Mayling Ng as the alien psycho Mongal, and Taika Waititi as Ratcatcher (the father).

Now this is what I’m talking about! “The Suicide Squad” is an R-rated vigilante movie that takes risks, keeps you laughing, and surprises you with Gunn’s versatility. As with Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” he takes this DC sequel to new heights, and has the right actors nailing their characters and cracking jokes at their own expenses. Elba and Cena are both cool when they use their guns wisely, Robbie still delivers as Harley, Davis is more fierce than ever, Dastmalchian has fun with the deadly polka dots, and Melchoir provides some humanity. Even Stallone sounds like he’s having fun voicing King Shark.

There are some twists and betrayals that leaves you amazed and concerned simultaneously at how choices are made. The soundtrack is once again eclectic with hits from Johnny Cash, the Jim Carroll Band, and grandson, etc. And how many movies provide a starfish whose babies can mimic the face huggers in the “Alien” franchise?

During June and July, I’ve seen some dreary blockbusters from “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” to “F9” to “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” and I wanted more out of “Black Widow,” which was marginally better than those sequels. I also read a Tweet from Richard Roeper, who was appalled at an ad saying that “F9” “might be the most perfect summer blockbuster ever made,” when so many (“Jaws,” Top Gun,” etc.) have beaten it to the punch. So, as with “Mission: Impossible-Fallout,” I’ll clarify with “The Suicide Squad.” It’s the best summer blockbuster of 2021. Not of all time, but of 2021.

Rating: 4 out of 4.

In Theaters and On HBO Max

Categories: Action, Adventure, comedy, Sci Fi, Sequel

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