Five years after David Ayers’ “Suicide Squad” was met with lackluster reviews, “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn took another stab at the DC Comics story, using several of the same characters and lots of new faces in what’s not quite a reboot and not quite a sequel.
While the film doesn’t hit theaters until Aug. 6, the first batch of reviews are in, and they’re overwhelmingly positive.
Read some highlights of what critics are saying below:
“‘The Suicide Squad’ gets it right, honing that rogue attitude to a much sleeker edge of outrage. It’s a team-of-scruffy-cutthroats origin story that feels honestly dunked in the grunge underworld, and shot for shot it’s made with a slicing ingenuity that honors the genre of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ (and also, in a funny way, ‘Ghostbusters’). In this movie, which he wrote and directed, the mind of James Gunn comes off as a happy downscale sick-joke place — no wilder than the sort of the thing you got in ‘Deadpool’ or the more outré parts of ‘The Dark Knight,’ but driven by an invigorating embrace of fuck-it-all no-futureness. The movie is, among other things, a splatter comedy of depraved sensationalism, with heads and bodies getting torn up, lopped off, and reduced to the flesh equivalent of lattice work. There are rats (a whole lot of them), bullets dicey enough to shoot through other bullets, along with the winningly low-down fact that while our heroes have powers, most of them aren’t all that super.
“The most fun and least depressing superhero movie in a very long time, Gunn’s deliriously ultra-violent ‘The Suicide Squad’ wears the yoke of its genre with a lightness that allows it to slip loose of the usual restraints, if not quite shake them off altogether. It must be liberating to make a $150 million (give or take) mulligan for a widely maligned disaster that still managed to gross almost a billion dollars despite becoming a punchline along the way, and that’s really what this unhinged carnival of R-rated cartoon mayhem amounts to at the end of the day: Not a reboot of or a sequel to 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad,’ but rather a second draft.”
“After 2016’s ugly, bludgeoning ‘Suicide Squad,’ I couldn’t imagine liking — and could barely stomach the idea of seeing — another movie called ‘Suicide Squad.’ I’m delighted to be proven wrong. And maybe more delighted than surprised. Less a sequel than a do-over, ‘The Suicide Squad’ is the latest film written and directed by James Gunn, crossing over to the DC side of the superhero cosmos after having churned out two ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movies for Marvel. Those pictures, with their trippy colors, surreal misadventures and goofy intergalactic misfits, turned out to be a useful warm-up for a story about a much more unruly and murderous band of outsiders.”
‘The Suicide Squad’ allows Gunn to lean into everything that he does best. He masterfully weaves action and drama with wit and humor, which we’ve come to expect from the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director, but there’s something more ingenious at work here. Gunn is Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka, manic gleam in his eye, taking us on a perverse and strangely emotional rollercoaster ride with a surprise around every corner.
“Armed with A-list stars — and one ginormous starfish — Gunn doesn’t quite outdo the heights of his first ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ film here but definitely continues his knack for taking obscure comic-book characters and creating extraordinary misfits with issues. Plus there’s a lot of heart and emotion woven through all the unpredictable deaths and rampant four-letter words that really give this strange picture life.”
“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.”