‘The Suicide Squad’ – Supervillains to the rescue on Max and Netflix

Not to be confused with the 2016 supervillain action movie Suicide Squad from director David Ayer, the sequel The Suicide Squad (2021) (note the definite addition of the indefinite article) is an altogether more entertaining and enjoyable film. It’s also funny, gory, energetic, and marvelously absurdist. What else would you expect from Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn?

It’s the same premise—the baddest of the imprisoned supervillains are drafted for dangerous missions by the government in exchange for shorter sentences—with a mix of new and returning characters on the team. This team reunites star player Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) with Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Colonel Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), the non-criminal mission leader, who are joined by deadly sharpshooter Bloodsport (Idris Elba), homicidally patriotic one-man-army Peacemaker (John Cena), and some of the most obscure and ridiculous villains drawn from the pages of DC comic books. Their mission sends them to a (fictional) South American island country that has imprisoned its own superpowered creature (another bizarre creation, this one a nod to sixties Japanese giant monster movies).

Gunn, who also wrote the original script, leans into the inherent absurdity of some of the more oddball characters, like King Shark, literally a talking shark with fins evolved into legs (voiced by Sylvester Stallone); Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), who disgorges interdimensional polka dots like projectiles; and T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), whose superpower is detachable fighting limbs. Gunn also embraces the R rating with the giddy overkill of extreme violence—half the squad is literally blown to bits in the opening assault—which he unleashes with black humor and bad puns. He embraces the garish spectacle, wildly silly concepts, and tormented villains who exhibit at least a little heroism or moral center at some point in the mission makes it more fun than the largely humorless original.

Elba is suitably intense as the deadly assassin who takes the mission to save his estranged daughter and Cena has fun playing a macho bad guy convinced that he’s saving the world with every violent act. As he puts it, with no sense of irony, “I cherish peace with all my heart; I don’t care how many men, women, and children I need to kill to get it.” Peacemaker has since gotten his own original series on HBO Max.

Margot Robbie, however, is the secret weapon as the wild child Harley Quinn, who embraces her madness and finds pleasure in every destructive, antisocial act she engages in. And once again, the most ruthless character in the film is government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who is ready to execute any and all of the team members for defying orders.

Rated R. Needless to say, this black-humored supervillain-as-superhero spectacle is not for kids.

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Fandango, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
The Suicide Squad [Blu-Ray + DVD]
The Suicide Squad [DVD]
The Suicide Squad [4K UHD]

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The Blu-ray and DVD releases also includes director commentary, deleted and extended scenes, and lots of behind-the-scenes featurettes.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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