The Suicide Squad (2021) ☆☆1/2 (2.5/4): More or less than adding “The”

I observed “The Suicide Squad” with occasional mild amusement while not feeling much care or enthusiasm. As the sequel to one of the most disappointing entries in DC Extended Universe (DCEU), it is definitely an improvement in comparison in many aspects, and I could discern that the cast and crew members of the movie clearly had some fun during its production, but the movie did not click that well with me nonetheless, mainly because I found myself often displeased about its blatantly mean and vicious sides instead of embracing and enjoying them like many critics and audiences.

During the opening sequence, the movie does a sort of cleaning job in a spectacularly gory and violent way. Under the command of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a bunch of nasty criminals including Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) are pushed into an extremely perilous mission set up by their ruthless supervisor Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), and we get to know these figures a bit as they are sent to some small South American island country, but then, what do you know, most of them turn out to be not only expendable but also quite inconsequential in Waller’s cold-blooded scheme.

Anyway, we are soon introduced to the real team to accomplish the mission, which is led by Robert DuBois/Bloodsport (Idris Elba), a notorious mercenary who reluctantly accepts a deal with Waller due to his adolescent daughter’s recent legal trouble. He is accompanied with Christopher Smith/Peacemaker (John Cena), Abner Krill/Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher 2 (Daniel Melchoir), and Nanaue/King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), and it goes without saying that he and these four other criminals do not get along that well with each other right from when they are gathered together for the first time.

Their mission looks pretty simple on the surface. That South American island country, which was recently turned upside down by a big military coup d’état, happens to have a top-secret facility, and this facility has something which should not tumble into the wrong hands at any chance. Therefore, they must infiltrate into that facility and then destroy everything associated with its clandestine project before the new leader of the country, who incidentally does not like the American government that much, takes the full control of whatever is hidden inside the facility.

While DuBois and his problematic team members safely infiltrate into the island without much trouble, the situation becomes a bit more complicated than expected, and they keep having troubles in working with each other. While Dubois and Smith come to conflict a lot with each other on who should lead the team, Krill and Cazo are still struggling with their respective parental issues, and, as a humongous shark monster, Nanaue often cannot help but driven by his carnivorous nature.

Director/writer James Gunn, who previously directed “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) and its 2017 sequel, is no stranger to handling a bunch of oddball comic book characters, and the first half of the movie generates some good laughs from the disharmonious interactions among DuBois and his team members. There is a cheerfully violent scene where DuBois and Smith zealously compete with each other on eliminating a bunch of soldiers around them, and, depending on your taste, you will wince or laugh as beholding their casual killings. I was also amused a bit by DuBois’ aversion to a certain aspect of Cazo’s ability, and you may appreciate how the movie later delivers a big payoff moment to this.

During its second half, the movie throws lots of actions into the screen as expected, but, alas, that is the point where its level of fun begins to be decreased. Except the escape sequence driven by one of its main characters, many of key action scenes in the film feel rather unimpressive and pedestrian without enough wit or style to engage and thrill us, and the obligatory climatic sequence does not work as well as intended due to the incoherent mix of comedy, action, and a bit of certain genre element which incidentally takes me back to Gunn’s deliberately gross B-horror film “Slither” (2006). In addition, the movie is sometimes too mean and vicious to be compensated by its irreverent comedy, and it eventually left me with bad tastes even though I understood its intention of being as edgy and naughty as its main characters.

At least, the main cast members of the film fill their broad characters with considerable personality. Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, and Viola Davis dutifully fill their respective spots as required, and, as before, Robbie plays her cheerfully deranged character with gusto, though I must point out that her character was much more fun and interesting to watch in “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” (2020). In case of the other main cast members, Idris Elba is intense as usual while also demonstrating his comic talent, and he is supported well by John Cena, David Dastmalchian, Peter Capaldi, Daniel Melchoir, and Sylvester Stallone, who surely has more lines to say than Vin Diesel in “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

Overall, “The Suicide Squad” succeeds in cleaning up the mess left by its predecessor, but it is less entertaining than “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” or “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” (2021). I gave these two films three stars while giving two stars to “Suicide Squad” (2016), so I give “The Suicide Squad” 2.5 stars, but I think you will enjoy it more than me if you are not as tired of uncharacteristic superhero films as I have been these days.

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