Written and Directed by James Gunn
Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone (voice), Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian
Idiris Elba is an actor one always looks forward to seeing. He is handsome, intelligent, incredibly well composed. His film choices often feel beneath his level of skill. Maybe it is the outstanding work he did on The Wire and Luther that sets the bar so high. His abridged role as captain of Prometheus almost reached up where he belongs. He feels like leading man material, but the material he’s given feels like a relegation to something less.
Suicide Squad from 2016 is a decent, if flawed rendition of a comic franchise no one really asked to be made. It’s pluses barely overcame the minuses for this reviewer. Of the positives, Robbie, Kinnaman and Davis have returned. They all feel more like passengers in this story. Then again, so does everyone else.
The premise is the same as the first. There is a dirty job, and Davis’ ruthless Waller is more than happy to send in a bunch of convicted comic criminals to pull it off. The first film held a surprise when one of the characters bit it right off the bat. This time the surprise lay in the volume of corpses before the credits begin to roll.
Gunn has a real penchant for gross comedy, really indulges here. We have to trust that the characters who survive are the best choices. Even so, we have no guarantees that the condensed version of the squad remains in tact through the last credit rolls. The twists provide many options for the director to throw feints; even more opportunities for a walloping uppercut. The story has more laughs than the first film, and thankfully we’re not given retread of the king of the mountain routine which would have killed that film if not for Davis. Still, the violent imagery and its affect to those onscreen is striking for even an R-Rated D.C.E,U. film.
Robbie is exceptional. The film does not try real hard to get to know many of the characters in depth. Even so, the exceptional hold she has on who Quinn has, three films in, become a delightfully subtle enterprise. We can’t help but know her, even as she seems to surprise us. Her actions tap something within to make the viewer that each one is ultimately understandable. They could make a dozen average films and she will never be a bore to behold.
Cena does his best. Man is he willing to go to any length to be in movies. It’s not whether one can really enjoy him, as much as can anyone remember his character.
Much has been made of Stallone’s turn as the voice for the digitized King Shark. Gunn does a fair job getting us to care about this doofus land shark, and Stallone really leans into the role. Not sure I did more than smile at any one of his best lines, but I was never bored enough to criticize the cgi either.
Which brings us back to Elba. Like many of The Suicide Squad, we don’t see very much development for character. Bloodsport seems a direct replacement of Smith’s Deadshot, from the daughter as bribe to the inclusion of -shot to their names. Even so, he is given a bit less scenery to chew than his predecessor. One can hope that this changes with The Harder They Fall, or this film’s likely sequel.
(***1/2 our of *****)