Review: ‘The Suicide Squad’ is miles better than its uneven predecessor

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Courtesy of HBO MAX

The Suicide Squad arrives onshore in Corto Maltese (@ Warner Bros. Pictures)

When DC released their live-action adaptation of the anti-hero group “Suicide Squad,” it was met with less than favorable reviews. David Ayer’s film was criticized for its plot, direction and overall tone while post-production issues plagued the film. 

Five years later, DC soft-rebooted the film with James Gunn, director of the acclaimed “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy, manning the helm instead of Ayer.

What a difference a change in direction makes. SPOILERS AHEAD! 

Ayer’s “Suicide Squad” tried too hard to be over the top and violent, but also played it very safe. Some characters are introduced in wild title cards while others are welcomed with just a single line of dialogue. 

Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” is exactly what the 2016 “Suicide Squad” should’ve been: destructive, comedic, gory. It is nowhere near perfect, as some moments tend to drag while the film jumps from place to place almost too quickly. Still, this isn’t enough to deter the film from being a bona fide hit.

Let this be clear: this movie is not like its PG-13 predecessor. “The Suicide Squad” has the blood and violence of “Deadpool” with a noticeable “Guardians” flair. Baddies and heroes alike get regularly butchered with extreme prejudice, usually in excruciatingly creative ways. (Death by rat swarm, anyone?)

The writing and dialogue have also been revamped so the jokes mostly land. The comedic relief feels much more natural and comes in different ways, whether it is a slapstick death or a one-liner dropped by one of the main characters.

However, the movie does have its minor flaws. New characters are rapidly thrown onto the screen while some scenes towards the middle of the film can take a little too long. The humor can also be a turn-off to some who may find it to be a little too juvenile.

Speaking of characters, there are some new members who have been invited into the squad against their will. Deadshot, portrayed in 2016 by Will Smith, is replaced by Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, who is forced into the Squad by Amanda Waller, chillingly played by Viola Davis.

Elba is joined by some faces from 2016, like Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Joel Kinnaman’s Colonel Rick Flagg. Robbie’s portrayal of the crazed harlequin is excellent as always, but Kinnaman’s Flagg gets a much-needed facelift, as he is sillier and much less jaded this time around. 

The new members of the squad steal the show in their own way. John Cena’s Peacemaker is a violent extremist who directly parallels Bloodsport in barbs and bullets with a mindset that reflects his pro-wrestling resumé. David Dastmalchian plays the awkward Polka-Dot Man, a man who can shoot polka dots out of his hands but is primarily used for comic relief.

King Shark/Nanaue, physically portrayed by Steve Agee yet voiced by Sylvester Stallone, has the terrifying power of a great white shark with the mindset of a child.

Undeniably, the heart of the movie is Ratcatcher 2, portrayed by Portuguese actress Daniela Melchior.

More importantly, it’s her kind attitude and friendly aura that binds the band of misfits together, with Gunn’s direction and Melchior’s acting selling Ratcatcher as a character who truly cares about her new compatriots.

As for antagonists, Waller is still as cold-blooded as she was in the first movie, commanding the Suicide Squad with ruthless tenacity. While the twist antagonist comes as a bit of a surprise, the final boss of the movie leads to a ludicrous and zany ending that can only come from the mind of James Gunn.

This year’s version of “The Suicide Squad” is a vast improvement over its predecessor with a consistent vision, dominant cast and wild combat that earns it a 9/10.