DC’s new Suicide Squad movie announces itself as different from the coolly received first film from 2016 simply by adding “The” to the title, maybe sneakily trying for an unacknowledged rebrand or reboot. James Gunn, also in charge of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, is brought on board as director and co-writer. This second Squad outing (if you don’t count last year’s standalone Harley Quinn adventure Birds of Prey) is a long, loud, often enjoyable and amusing film that blitzes your eyeballs and eardrums and covers all the bases. There is Guardians-style comedy mixing humans and talking animals, there is freaky violence – including what I have to say is a gruesomely impressive interior-anatomical shot, showing a knife plunging into the still-beating heart – and there is colossal CGI spectacle for the final act in which a giant thing runs rampant in a city, while the gang look up at it; a trope that has become almost legally mandatory for superhero movies.
Viola Davis once again brings a touch of class to the Suicide Squad franchise as the chillingly manipulative security chief Amanda Waller who now springs supervillain Bloodsport (Idris Elba) from jail so that he can head up an elite new crew of misfits, desperadoes and undesirables. These include Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), the ironically belligerent Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark – a great big talking shark in Hulk-ish stretchy shorts – voiced by Sylvester Stallone, Ratcatcher II (Daniela Melchior), who commands an army of rats wherever she goes, and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), who fires molten polka-dots at the enemy, revving himself up for the task by imagining that this is his overbearing mother. There is also a kind of B-team of Squadders whose job is to be hilariously expendable.
Our freaky antiheroes are tasked with invading an island off South America that is the site of a secretive bioweapons research facility run by evil genius the Thinker (a seriously underused Peter Capaldi), in order to neutralise this place so that it does not threaten American interests. There are some laughs here, mainly provided by the intensely uptight Peacemaker who when told by Bloodsport that nobody likes a show-off, replies petulantly: “Unless what you are showing off is as dope as fuck!” Not everything works here, but the sheer crazy confidence-through-chaos of the Suicide Squad and their bizarrely dysfunctional MO makes for a mighty spectacle.
• The Suicide Squad is released on 30 July in the UK, on 5 August in Australia, and on 6 August in the US.