The Suicide Squad has a lot in common with its predecessor, Suicide Squad. There’s the name, of course, carryover characters like Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and new characters who fill essentially the same roles as old ones—like assassins Deadshot and replacement Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and half-man/half-animals Killer Croc and replacement Nanue (Sylvester Stallone). Unlike Suicide Squad—which can be described generously as “a trainwreck of a movie that should have never been released”—The Suicide Squad is actually kind of good. (Emphasis on “kind of.”)
Some spoilers ahead.
Helmed by director James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy fame—whose (temporary) firing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe after old tweets featuring jokes about pedophilia and rape were unearthed allowed him to be picked up by the DC Extended Universe—The Suicide Squad is the most MCU of the notoriously moody DC films. With a lot more one-liners than previous entries in the DCEU and a hard R rating, it comes across as Deadpool without the fourth-wall breaking or a gory Avengers but with explicit (and awkwardly shoehorned in) sex jokes. It’s fine, if you’re into that sort of thing, an entertaining if slightly forced violent action movie.
However derivative it might be, The Suicide Squad manages to do something no other superhero movie has yet: create a real sense of stakes. The film kicks off by introducing us to Savant (Michael Rooker), a badass, high-accuracy combat expert who, like the other members of the titular Suicide Squad, is offered a reduction in his prison sentence in exchange for going on a dangerous mission to Corto Maltese, a South American nation that has just seen a violent coup take out its ruling family. The mission: destroy a secret Nazi lab before the new anti-American regime can get its hands on the dangerous projects hidden inside. In addition to Rooker, this new Squad is fairly star-studded: Jai Courtney returns as Captain Boomerang, Pete Davison joins as Blackguard, and Nathan Fillon appears as T.D.K.