Writer/Director James Gunn takes the original concept and turns it into ultra violent, profane bloody, funny Harley Quinn-tessential mayhem. This film rocked our world, keeping us engrossed for over 2 hours. Gunn takes these DC characters and gives them a likable, comic edge. These super villains are freaks of nature, meta-humans, with some of the most bizarre super powers to hit the big screen. Gunn has proven he knows how to shoot action with Guardians of the Galaxy, and weave a good story. And he does it here.
The tenor is set from the get go with one of the holdovers from the original. Once again, Amanda Waller, (Viola Davis) is the ruthless director of the dangerous deadly missions of the Suicide Squad. She chooses 13 inmates in the Belle Reve prison from hell. Belle Reve, which means beautiful dream is really a nightmare. Waller is a U.S. Government authoritarian with the power of life or death over the Squad. Stern and stoic, she has each of them implanted with a tracking device that she can also use to blow them up at will. But she holds out a carrot if they survive and succeed in the mission.
Gunn goes against convention, killing off members of the team on their dangerous mission to the South American island nation, Corto Maltese. That’s where they need to take down an evil scientist, The Thinker (Peter Capaldi) and the massive lethal starfish he’s been developing. Although creative, the big-as-a-building pink, lumbering starfish with a big eye reminded us of the scary Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.
Gunn creates an interesting but sordid cast of characters led by Bloodsport (Idris Elba) who is really at the center of this film. Elba employs that sour dour persona he does so well which works well for his character. Waller makes him the leader of the squad which includes, good guy Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and Peacemaker (John Cena), who is anything but peaceful. Cena is a bit of a buffoon packed with muscle. Then there’s Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) who has some unique powers but saddled with mother issues. Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) follows in her father’s footsteps with a concern for the environment. Her special ability is to be able to commune with rats which comes in handy on this mission.
T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), is able to rearrange his body parts to better attack in battle. The most bizarre of all is King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), a walking-talking great white who just gobbles up his enemies. He has the mental capacity of a toddler and ambles in and out of scenes every once in awhile, until put to good use.
When Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) shows up, she infuses the film with her delightfully giddy, yet profane aura. With that maniacal toothy grin through blood red lips and a tattered gown to match, she has become the franchise’s icon. Bad ass Harley can go between absolutely adorable to deadly as ever in less than a second. Where David Ayers made Harley less likable in the original, Gunn makes Harley more engaging, delivering some good comedic punch lines in the most tortuous situations.
And when the killing starts, Gunn just won’t let it stop. He writes for laughs and they land, sparking giggles, even during the most gory sequences. In one memorable, long slo mo scene, bullets are flying, blood is spurting everywhere and then, animated images of birds and flowers light up the screen. This mashup of death surrounded by surreal images creates a juxtaposition that shouldn’t work, but somehow does.
James Gunn took his shot with Marvel and aimed some of that fun at the DC universe. Push comes to shove, literally and often, in this movie. From Viola Davis’ first snarl, to the last gunshot, it’s profane, bloody, good and funny, overkill fun.
Warner Bros. 2 hours and 12 minutes R
In theaters and HBO Max
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