Those who have an intense dislike for rats would find one scene an absolute terror to watch in The Suicide Squad.
The rest of the film is one free-wheeling self-aware romp as helmer James Gunn runs away with the inherent silliness of the obscure comic book villains and ratchets the goofy factor by 11. Because really, who will take characters like The Detachable Kid, or the Polka Dot Man seriously, so might as well have fun with it.
And fun James Gunn did (superhero fans know him as the director of the two Guardians of the Galaxy films, also a film adaptation on a relatively obscure group of misfits and superheroes – and there is a touch of the GOTG in the proceedings abetted by the fact that Guardians alum Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Michael Rooker (Yondu), and Sean Gunn (Kraglin, and mocap model for Rocket).
The film starts the introduction of the hardened inmates of Belle Reve penitentiary led by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to a South American (and fictional) nation of Corto Maltese. In a clever bait-and-switch, the film introduces the beta characters of the eponymous squad, who were slowly killed off in one gory, horrific sequence.
Cut to THE TEAM, led by Bloodsport (Idris Elba), with Peacemaker (John Cenna), the Shark King (Sylvester Stallone), the Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior). Rounding them up is Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie reprising her role in the previous film, like Kinnaman).
The film is essentially a soft reboot of the heavily-panned Will Smith starrer released in 2016. There are a lot of metareferences and even direct homage to its comic book source, and Gunn has that deft touch of combining ultra-violence and silly humor, with characters making direct commentaries on the silliness on screen (note Peacemaker’s reaction to Polka Dot Man’s powers, or the other character’s reactions to the real meaning of TDK).
Even the villain, which could have ended up a cartoony character in less certain hands, came off as a tragic character. He was no real villain, just one of those creatures who tragically lost its freedom and decided once and for all to wreak vengeance on those that wronged it).
In an ensemble cast, the film is often carried with by the more talented ones, and weighed down by wooden unmemorable acting. Gunn’s Suicide Squad has no such burden, with each of the actors contributing something new and fresh, whether it is the gravitas that Elba gives to Bloodsport, the seething resentment displayed by Dastmalchian (give more meaty roles to this man!), or the pathos Melchior who steals all the scenes she is in from underneath her more experienced costars.
The Suicide Squad worth all the hype?
It is, and more.
It is a supervillain film that cleverly attempts to give a human face to what are perceived to be the antagonists in the story. More importantly, it is one entertainment romp.
And that is what matters most when under lockdown.