Bloody good ‘Suicide Squad’ makes comic book movies fun again

The James Gunn-directed superhero flick is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
"The Suicide Squad"

Wow, Hollywood is getting lazy. The sequel to “Suicide Squad” can’t come up with a better title than just adding “the” to the beginning? Hello? Did anyone even think of “Suicide Squad 2”?

Kidding, of course! “The Suicide Squad” is a standalone sequel that bears little connection to the forgettable first attempt to take this comic to the big screen, aside from a shared cast.

And in the irreverent hands of director James Gunn, this “Suicide Squad” hurdles a decidedly low bar to be one of the most fun D.C. superhero movies ever. It’s only real competition being the somehow still underrated “Shazam!”

Gunn helms a talented cast in a movie that is masterful in not taking itself too seriously, finally delivering a “Deadpool” equivalent on the D.C. side of the superhero spectrum. It takes a very “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” approach with a wild opening that I won’t spoil here.

The premise gets a deft, no-frills setup as government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of super-villains for a dangerous mission. How do you keep super-villains from being all villainy? You implant a bomb in them that you detonate if they don’t follow orders.

The team is lead by expert marksman Bloodsport (Idris Elba). He’s a reluctant leader drawn into the mission by a threat to imprison his teenage daughter over a minor offense. His team includes prototypical action hero Peacemaker (John Cena), beloved psycho Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and half-man, half-shark King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone). 

The team is dropped in the island nation of Corto Maltese on a seek-and-destroy mission to take out a secretive lab housing a living weapon that’s not of this world.

Gunn, who also wrote the script, takes a big budget and makes some big fun. The cast seems to be enjoying themselves just as much as audiences will.

The writer/director chose some deep-dive characters here, such as Polka Dot Man (delightfully played by David Dastmalchian), allowing him to make a movie that’s based on a comic without the weight of depicting well-known characters.

Actors such as Elba and Davis bring some serious dramatic chops to the table, but this is decidedly an action-comedy with everyone bringing great chemistry and sharp timing.

Gunn implements a narrative that hops around time to mixed effect, hitting some rough patches in the third act before a really fun boss fight at the end. In fact, much of “The Suicide Squad” gives off a video game feel. It’s decidedly R-rated thanks to lots of over-the-top, bloody violence.

Here’s a hot take for you: I had more fun in this movie than either of Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” films.

While the MCU was delightfully ambitious in its overlap, it’s refreshing to have a comic-book movie that can truly stand on its own.

“The Suicide Squad”

Now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max

4 stars out of 5