2016's movie adaptation of the DC Comics property Suicide Squad was universally reviled, even being hated by its director, David Ayer. Granted, it's no masterpiece by any stretch, but I felt it was a fun watch. Anyway, we now have a "soft reboot," The Suicide Squad, written and directed by James Gunn, who previously gave us the terrific Guardians of the Galaxy films from Marvel. He also gave us the repugnant superhero spoof Super in 2010, which The Suicide Squad more often resembles.
Once again, incarcerated supervillains would be given amnesty if they agree to perform extremely dangerous missions for a shadowy government agency. For this mission, the Squad consists of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), kooky psychologist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), rodent whisperer Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchain), who vomits acidic polka-dots, and then there are Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and Peacemaker (John Cena), who constantly clash because both have the same ability to make a deadly weapon out of virtually anything.
Last, and actually least, is King Shark, a walking and talking shark wearing shorts and voiced by Sylvester Stallone. Gunn clearly doesn't know what to do with this shark guy character, who is inconsequential to the story. If King Shark was completely removed from the film, it wouldn't affect the film in any way. However, I did like the character of Ratcatcher 2, because she gave the film some much needed heart.
The villains here are pretty damn weak. Peter Capaldi plays the bulbous head Thinker, but his character never feels like a big threat. Besides, his physical appearance, with tubes sticking out of his cranium, is laughable. Actually, he kind of looks like Kevin McDonald working his way through a Kids in the Hall skit.
There is no narrative thrust. The plot is to find this giant mind-controlling starfish...and that's it. There are no plot complications to create tensions. There is mostly unfunny back and forth banter between the characters, and a bunch of music video style interludes to pad out this whole thing.
Even though I saw the joke coming a mile away, I did laugh when the Squad goes to rescue supposedly captured Colonel Flag and end up murdering freedom fighters they mistake for adversarial military. And I did like the creativity in a scene where Harley machine guns and slashes her way to freedom. Flower petals are mixed in with the blood spewing from the henchmen as cartoon birds fly around.
The Suicide Squad wants to be irreverent and hip with its mixture of ultra-violence and comedy, but it all feels forced and rather mean-spirited. This just doesn't have the smarts, or the gags, of, say, the Deadpool movies.
** stars (out of four)