Supervillains Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker and a collection of nutty cons at Belle Reve prison join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X as they are dropped off at the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese.

Cast:  Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, John Cena, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Sylvester Stallone, Peter Capaldi, Viola Davis, Michael Rooker, Jai Courtney, Nathan Fillion, Flula Borg, Mayling Ng, Pete Davidson, Sean Gunn, Stephen Blackehart, Steve Agee , Tinashe Kajese, Storm Reid

Directors: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn

When Warner Bros and DC hired James Gunn as director and writer for the sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad, the collective question was whether he could replicate the success he’d had with Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy? Thankfully, Gunn has proven he’s a maestro when putting these superhero team movies together without resorting to a similar style. The Suicide Squad is not only one of the funniest superhero films, but it’s also one the most fun to watch, all without sacrificing the at times dark backstories of films characters or going light on violence. 

Reportedly given free rein by WB/DC to do as he pleased, Gunn puts together a massive cast of mostly D-tier villains for his two Suicide Squad teams. That’s right, two, but I’m not spoiling how they come together. The most recognisable of the teams is lead by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Savant (Michael Rooker), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), TDK (Nathan Fillion), Javelin (Flula Borg), Weasel (Sean Gunn) and Mongal (Mayling Ng). 

Joel Kinnaman is charming and likeable in this film compared to the 2016 film where he was a cold, rather unlikable military-stereotype. Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn following 2020’s Birds of Prey is a ten-fold improvement over the over-sexualised and objectified “crazy hot girl” characterisation given to her in Suicide Squad. It’s not Birds of Prey, but at the same time, Quinn isn’t the focus of The Suicide Squad, even if she is one of the core characters. Jai Courtney gets to deliver some delicious dialogue in this film and is having a blast, and you can tell. The new members of the team are all solid additions. An early argument between them quickly showcases why Gunn hired Rooker, DavidsonFillion, Borg, Gunn and Ng for each character’s particular needs. 


Elsewhere another team is on their mission for Taskforce-X commander Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, commanding every scene). Leading this squad is the film’s protagonist, Bloodsport (Idris Elba), who’s in prison for attempting to kill superman with a kryptonite bullet. Joining his team is Peacemaker (John Cena), a sadistic killer with a lot of personality, Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), a petty criminal who can control rats, Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchain) who can shoot… polka-dots, and the character everyone’s going to fall in love with, Nanaue aka King Shark (mo-capped by Steve Agee, but voiced by Sylvester Stallone). 

Idris Elba gets to showcase both this hard-boiled side that Luther fans fell in love with, as well as his ability to play comedy here, and although his character feels like an odd re-do of Deadshot from the first film, it’s ten-fold an improvement. But it’s Bloodsports relationship with Daniela Melchoir’s Ratcatcher 2 that’s the heart of the film. The father-figure relationship Bloodsport builds with Ratchater 2 is reminiscent of something Gunn has done in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, but I liked it here and not in the Marvel movies. 

The character audiences are bound to leave the theatre having laughed at the most and fallen in love with is Stallone’s shark, Nanuae. However, the young Daniela Melchior is the standout casting choice and bound to be the breakout star. The young Portuguese actress who Hollywood will surely pick up following her loveable performance. Ratcatcher 2 is the most humane and sweet member of the new Suicide Squad team, and Melchior plays her with such a lovely touch, which keeps the humanity and heart in The Suicide Squad. 

There are so many characters it feels terrible not to give every character an actor their shoutout. Still, in keeping with only highlighting the crème de la crème, David Dastmalchian’s turn as Polka-Dot Man is the film’s most surprising character and performance. Especially since Polka-Dot Man has been a significant joke on Batman comics and lore forever, and in most of his appearances, even the character can’t take himself seriously. But through Gunn’s writing and direction, he’s a legit force to be reckoned with and a character you’ll go from laughing at to cheering. 

As far as the violence goes in The Suicide Squad — it’s a lot. The film’s opening act is nearly too much, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a turning-off point for some audience members. It feels like Gunn is leaning back into his horror roots and letting loose to steam he couldn’t in the house-of-mouse. Even amongst the blood-sprays, limbs and swear words, there’s never a moment this movie feels like it’s trying to be cool and fit in with a younger crowd. Between this film and last years Birds of Prey, it’s pretty evident these DC characters suit better to an adult rating. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a fun film or have to treat things too seriously. The Suicide Squad is often a ridiculous film, but it’s weighed down by characters that feel real and not like Hot Topic cosplays.