At The Movies: Ugly heroes, uglier situations add up to excitement in The Suicide Squad

Still from the film The Suicide Squad.
Still from the film The Suicide Squad.PHOTO: WARNER BROS

The Suicide Squad (M18)

132 minutes, opens on Thursday (Aug 5)

4 stars

The last outing for the squad in 2016 turned out to be a lesson in how not to make a movie about misfit warriors. It was a disjointed mess, after being eviscerated of its violence and pessimism so as to make it more censor-friendly.

Shockingly, it did well enough at the box office to warrant another movie. The new film has been called a standalone sequel, though it is more like a soft reboot of the franchise.

With its M18 rating, it is as properly blood-splattered, swear-laden and nihilistic as it needs to be for a movie about ugly people (and ugly human-like creatures) forced by the threat of death to carry out shady missions in foreign lands by a morally compromised American government.

Once more, government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a task force of criminals and lowlifes for a suicide mission - to destroy a sinister weapons laboratory on the island of Corto Maltese.

Members such as Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and the fish-human hybrid King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone) are sent to the island, but find that there is more to the mission than they bargained for.

There is not much that can be said about the plot without ruining its best parts, but it can be noted that this is very much writer-director James Gunn's movie.

This is a work with narrative coherence and a singular visual style with everything that Gunn , who has helmed comedy-tinged anti-hero movies (Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1 and 2, 2014 and 2017; the ordinary-guy-as-superhero film Super, 2010), enjoys.

His heart is with the underdogs - the underpowered characters who start as non-entities, but who gradually grow in importance until they become the film's most memorable and moving elements.