Supervillains Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker and a collection of nutty cons at Belle Reve prison join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X as they are dropped off at the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese.
With its washed-out color palette, gratuitous violence and gritty look, James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” resembles a 1970’s grindhouse B-actioner more than a big budget superhero epic. This is one of the many departures the director employs in an effort to distance his feature from David Ayer’s 2016 “Suicide Squad,” a film that’s widely regarded with disdain yet somehow managed to make three-quarters of a billion dollars at the box office. This was more than enough for Warner Brothers to roll the dice once more on this franchise revolving around a group of anti-heroes blackmailed into saving the world. The result is a bit better, the film improving on its predecessor in some areas, treading water in others.
A combination of familiar faces as well as new characters round out the team, all super-criminals who will get 10 years lopped off their sentences if they survive the suicide mission they’re to be sent on. Margot Robbie and Joel Kinnaman return as Harley Quinn and Colonel Rick Flag respectively, joined by the ruthless mercenary Bloodsport (Idris Elba), the overly patriotic Peacemaker (John Cena), the manipulator of rodents Ratcatcher (Daniela Melchior) the disc throwing killer Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and a walking Great White, King Shark (voice by Sylvester Stallone). A rag-tag bunch to be sure, their mission is to quietly invade the country of Corto Maltese and infiltrate a facility housing an experiment known as Project Starfish. What this is exactly is shaded in secrecy but it’s implied it contains a creature with the ability to wipe out humanity.
While the characters are more engaging and the mission their assigned more exciting, the director shoots himself in the foot in adapting an uneven approach, his choice to execute the film’s violence in such a gratuitous way a major misstep, while he fails to escape the repetitive nature so many superhero films fall victim to. Still, there are moments of wit and imagination sprinkled about, making it bearable and at times, very entertaining.
Gunn is quite clever in the way he stages the mission, beginning with the invasion of the island country, then doubling back to provide the necessary background. He does this throughout the film, keeping us on our toes as a result. The characters, for the most part, keep us engaged, the antagonistic chemistry between Elba and Cena a delight, while Melchior generates a degree of sympathy for her troubled misfit. As for King Shark, Stallone is obviously having a great time voicing the dimwitted predator.
However, the movie is bloated with action scenes that stretch to the point of tedium and an adventure that loses its sense of urgency long before it’s over. The most glaring fault is the inclusion of fan favorite Harley Quinn, whose every scene brings the story to a screeching halt. The character stands out like a sore thumb, adding nothing of substance to the story or adventure, her presence a blatant attempt to please her fan base. The personification of nails screeching down a chalkboard, had she been completely excised from the movie she would not have been missed and the result would have been a more streamline, exciting film.
As for the movie’s violence, Gunn overdoes the gore factor, adopting an over-the-top approach in an attempt to be humorous. For the most part, it proves disturbing, just one example of the many excesses that end up tripping up “The Suicide Squad,” a feature, like so many superhero entries, that overstays its welcome. Here’s hoping Warner Brothers doesn’t follow the notion that the third time’s the charm where this franchise is concerned.
2 1/2 Stars
“The Suicide Squad” has quite a bit of unexpected comedy, most of which is brought to light by the competitiveness between Bloodsport and Peacekeeper. Cena and Elba are truly fun even amidst the bloodbath of violence. These actors understand comedic timing and reactionary humor which plays beautifully. If only writer James Gunn could have focused more on this relationship rather than the ever-repetitive and overly choreographed fight scenes.
To read Pam’s 2 Star review, go to http://reelhonestreviews.com/the-suicide-squad-a-disjointed-gruesome-mess/