The Suicide Squad (2021)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 11/21/22
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Viola Davis, Peter Capaldi, Sylvester Stallone, cameos by Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Pete Davidson, Sean Gunn

"I cherish peace with all of my heart. I don't care how many men, women, and children I kill to get it."

Is it a sequel, a remake, or a reboot? According to director James Gunn, "it is what it is." The cruel and detestable Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) pulls together two suicide squads to infiltrate the Central American island of Corto Maltese and destroy a scientific research facility. Using the exact same setup as the first "Suicide Squad" (2016) film, Waller coerces Bloodsport (who is a carbon copy of Will Smith's Deadshot character) into joining the mission by threatening to harm his estranged teenage daughter. The main team consists of Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), who are later joined by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Naturally, the mission gets completely out of hand and hundreds of people die in the wake of Waller's treacherous agenda.

The film sets a grim and unapologetically violent tone almost immediately, and the opening battle on Corto Maltese is shockingly bloody and brutal. James Gunn's dark and quirky sense of humor is evident throughout, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. However, to his credit, Gunn does a fantastic job of building the characters and making them both sympathetic and human - with the sole exception of Peacemaker, who is intentionally a despicable asshole. I also really admired his treatment of Harley Quinn, who was sorely misrepresented in both "Suicide Squad" and "Birds Of Prey" (2020). Both he and Margot Robbie understand the core of Harley's character, and her narrative arc and presentation are superb. All of the actors do an excellent job, and it's a top-notch production. If you can align yourself with the film's humor and sensibilities, and accept it on its own terms, "The Suicide Squad" can be an entertaining and enjoyable comic book adventure.