The Suicide Squad Movie Review -- When a Marvel guy makes DC's best movie to date

You would think a concept of a shadow task force made up of supervillains sent on suicide missions for the U.S. government would be so easy to turn into a fun movie. With no morals and no holds barred, anything can happen. Which is wild considering David Ayer's Suicide Squad is such an insultingly bland affair. The way James Gunn's The Suicide Squad so easily gets it right makes you wonder why they didn't go in this direction in the first place.

The eponymous Suicide Squad is more focused this time around, foregoing the clunky cinematic universe-building that screwed David Ayer's vision and shining the spotlight on the Squad itself. Bloodsport (Idris Elba) is thrust as a reluctant leader to the new iteration of Task Force X, consisting of Peacemaker (John Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), with Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) returning as their handler and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) tagging along for the ride. But instead of watching caricatures with badly-written quips, we're treated to interesting, actual characters with compelling reasons to live through this mission...or die trying.

With dying kind of like the Squad's whole thing, it's in that vein that Gunn's signature brand of dark humor gushes out in copious amounts. Channeling his Troma Entertainment roots, Gunn makes entrails rain and bodies disintegrate into bloody bits in hilarious deaths that make the red in Black Widow's ledger look pink in comparison. There are often points where the shock schlock wears thin, but Gunn toes that line ever so gently that even the 100th head explosion is just as funny as the first one.

And can you imagine having something as goofy as a giant cyclopean starfish as the big bad in the grim and gritty Snyderverse? Apparently we're in that universe now, because Starro the Conqueror is both the wildest choice for a movie villain and the most compelling. It's hard to describe Starro without going into heavy spoilers, but if the big alien starfish stomping people to bits and making you cry for good measure doesn't make you a fan...then I respect your opinion, even if your opinion is wrong.

Through all this carnage, I found myself actually caring for these villainous misfits, something I never felt in the first film, nor what I ever thought I'd say about psychopathic supervillains. Idris Elba goes against type, equal parts badass and funny as Bloodsport without even trying. John Cena as the jingoistic meathead Peacemaker is a bit of inspired casting, and proof that he's got the acting chops to run with the big boys. Margot Robbie comes into her own in this more fleshed-out version of Harley, and her action scenes are some of the best parts of the movie. King Shark is adorable without even trying. Polka-Dot Man is the latest character breathed new life into by David Dastmalchian, and Ratcatcher 2 is Daniela Melchior's breakout role. I love, love loved her in this and I wish we could see more of her in the DCEU, in whatever form it takes in the next few years.

But amidst the bloody body parts strewn all over The Suicide Squad is a surprising amount of heart, something that's been missing in most of DC's movies not named Aquaman and Wonder Woman. If a movie makes you feel, makes you care, then it doesn't matter if it's about actual villainous assholes. 

The irony that it took a known Marvel director to succeed where many of DC's handpicked failed time and again is not lost to me. The Suicide Squad is proof that DC should stop being ashamed of their comic book roots and embrace the silliness and larger than life stories in ways Marvel Studios wishes it could. Highly recommended!

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