I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film quite like James Gunn’s (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) new “Suicide Squad” before. It’s filled to the brim with obscure characters that are somehow interesting while also being so strange that I can’t help but wonder why they were ever written into comic book lore (Polka-Dot Man? King Shark?). It also possessed a slightly confusing and long-winded plot that was more entertaining than I had expected and, of course, a whole lot of chaos and craziness.
This film is almost, but not quite, a reboot of David Ayer’s (“The Tax Collector”) 2016 “Suicide Squad” movie; it consisted of some of the cast members from the first film, such as Joel Kinnaman (“RoboCop”) as Colonel Rick Flag, Viola Davis (“Fences”) as Amanda Waller and Margot Robbie (“Birds of Prey: Harley Quinn”) as Harley Quinn while making no mention of the events of that 2016 film. A little confusing, to be sure, but if you choose to focus on this film and not worry about exactly where it fits into the DC Extended Universe, you’ll find yourself having a pretty good time.
“The Suicide Squad” was by no means a groundbreaking film, or even the most heartfelt, meaningful film of its genre. But it does what it sets out to do: entertain. There are violent fight scenes meant for the gore-loving fans in the audience, a stellar cast featuring stars from John Cena (“Bumblebee”) to Sylvester Stallone (“Rocky”) and a lot of Harley Quinn. Scenes in which Robbie’s Harley Quinn is the sole focus are easily the best ones; cartoon flowers and butterflies dancing on the screen complete Harley’s showcase of her gymnastic skills and penchant for violence. She’s iconic.
What really made the film work, though, was that the cast worked together like a well-oiled machine. This translates to their real lives, as well. While attending a live webinar where the cast answered questions, their camaraderie was apparent. They would crack jokes with one another, often at Michael Rooker’s (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) expense, and laugh about fun memories on set. Everyone would listen to Sylvester Stallone, a commanding presence, tell stories about his childhood. They used the Zoom private chat to communicate with each other, including Idris Elba (“Thor: Ragnarok”) messaging James Gunn. They knew each other well and very clearly enjoyed being around one another, no matter their role in the film: Even the characters with less screen time, such as Pete Davidson (“The King of Staten Island”) and Nathan Fillion (“Castle”), or those who played villains against the antiheroes of the Suicide Squad, like Juan Diego Botto (“La Celestina”) and Joaquín Cosío (“Quantum of Solace”), were part of the group, part of the family.
“The Suicide Squad” isn’t exactly like other superhero movies, mostly because the superheroes aren’t really heroes at all; they’ve all got issues, and most of them are only helping Amanda Waller out because she’s coerced them. But you do find yourself caring about the characters and rooting for (most of) them, which is what any good ensemble hero movie hopes to do. Because of its initial focus on human villains (though, there is a “monster” villain near the end) “The Suicide Squad” was far more entertaining and successful than its 2016 counterpart.
In short, with its genuinely hilarious scenes and, more importantly, the real familial bonds you see from its cast, “The Suicide Squad” is worth watching. It’s one of the first big-name movies in theaters in a long time and has definitely been worth the wait.
Daily Arts Writer Sabriya Imami can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.