If you can recall in 2016 when the trailer for David Ayer's Suicide Squad dropped, the buzz was huge. It promised a rollicking good time. It didn't deliver. By including a simple "The" to title his film, writer-director James Gunn seems to want to wipe the memory of that film clean from our memories. So while this film is technically a sequel, The Suicide Squad is the film everyone has been waiting for. In fact, it's better than anything we could have expected.
This is largely due to James Gunn's demented sensibilities. Few may remember that Gunn comes from Troma Entertainment. He wrote Tromeo and Juliet long before Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. That twisted origin is magnified in this gloriously perverse studio film. From the first frame, Gunn gets the comedic tone dialed in while also finding room for some political commentary. The opening 45 minutes or so is so confident in what the film is going to be.
The premise is fairly simple. The Suicide Squad is sent by the U.S. Government to the made-up country of Corto Maltese, whose dictator has been overthrown and the coup taking over is anti-American. Bloodsport (Idris Elba) replaces Will Smith's Deadshot. Margot Robbie returns as Harley Quinn alongside Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman from Suicide Squad. The rest of the misfits include rodent controlling Ratcatcher (Daniela Melchior), violent Peacemaker (John Cena), downtrodden Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and a giant shark Nanaue voiced hilariously by Sylvester Stallone. The crew is a motley crew of weirdos and outsiders. Gunn clearly loves these outcasts and does everything to make us love them.
There are likely to be some comparisons here to Marvel's Deadpool. Sure, they are both R-rated superhero movies. The big difference here is The Suicide Squad is funny and heartfelt on its own terms, eschewing the meta-humor that becomes Deadpool's only note. The film is gory in an inventive way, pulling absurdist humor out of the bloody mayhem. The film also solves the issue that has plagued the third act of so many recent superhero films, it is clear and cohesive in its final battle. You can see what is going on, avoiding the CGI smokey blur that seems to be ever-present in these types of films.
Full of memorable moments thanks to the fine cast and clever writing, The Suicide Squad is the most fun film of this summer season. Elba and Cena get to flex their funny bones. Harley gets her best fight sequence of any of the films she has appeared in. And gosh darn it if I didn't become a huge fan of Polka-Dot Man. Gunn has made a big-budget Troma film with a wonderfully perverse sense of humor and big heart.