The Suicide Squad 'an anarchic and dizzyingly dotty reboot' for DC super-villains

The Suicide Squad: David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man, John Cena as Peacemaker, Idris Elba as Bloodsport and Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2
The Suicide Squad: David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man, John Cena as Peacemaker, Idris Elba as Bloodsport and Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2

THE SUICIDE SQUAD (15, 132 mins) Action/Adventure/Comedy/Romance. Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion, Sean Gunn, Flula Borg, Mayling Ng, Joaquín Cosio, Juan Diego Botto and the voice of Sylvester Stallone. Director: James Gunn.

Released: July 30

IN 2016, David Ayer wrote and directed the original story Suicide Squad about a scheming US government agent (Viola Davis), who press-gangs dangerous incarcerated criminals into carrying out covert missions with limited chance of success in exchange for reduced prison sentences.

His splashy introduction of the DC Comics super-villains, nicknamed Task Force X, was a full-blown assault on the eyes and ears but rarely troubled the grey matter or made full use of an expansive A-list cast beyond Margot Robbie's wide-eyed lunacy as gum-blowing anti-heroine Harley Quinn.

Writer-director James Gunn excitedly picks up the baton for an anarchic and dizzyingly dotty reboot, which mimics the irreverence and soundtrack-fixated swagger of his Guardians Of The Galaxy films, heightened with explosions of graphic violence that leave little to the anatomical imagination.

Imaginative on-screen captions help us navigate an intentionally fractured timeline, which introduces a hulking extra-terrestrial adversary dating back more than 60 years in the comic books to the dawn of the Justice League.

Robbie takes top billing and snags a deranged romantic subplot but the script affords generous screen time to some of her co-stars, particularly Idris Elba and John Cena as rival assassins, while Daniela Melchior plucks heartstrings as a sensitive girl whose vermin best friend targets the Groot sweet spot.

When the fate of mankind hangs in the balance – again – Amanda Waller (Davis) entreats Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to respond with a ragtag band of degenerates who have micro-bombs implanted in their necks.

Their top-secret mission: to destroy all trace of Project Starfish spearheaded by The Thinker (Peter Capaldi) on the island nation of Corto Maltese, which has recently experienced a military coup orchestrated by General Mateo Suarez (Joaquin Cosio) to install Luna (Juan Diego Botto) as president.

Flag's unlikely band of gifted soldiers includes Harley Quinn (Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Savant (Michael Rooker), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), TDK (Nathan Fillion), Weasel (Sean Gunn), Javelin (Flula Borg) and Mongal (Mayling Ng).

Meanwhile, a second team of remarkable misfits comprising Bloodsport (Elba), Peacemaker (Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and King Shark (drolly voiced by Sylvester Stallone) is brought into play to guarantee success.

Crammed to bursting with madcap new characters, The Suicide Squad runs 11 minutes longer than its predecessor and does feel bloated.

Gunn shows no mercy, ruthlessly cutting a swathe through the cast and splashing their innards over sprawling sets to underline the perilously high stakes.

He remedies some of the problems of Ayer's 2016 picture, including the tonal inconsistencies, but also falls into the same traps, including a heavy reliance on digital effects.

The script mines "anti-American fervour" and embraces the insanity of a showdown between mankind and a rampaging otherworldly creature, who wreaks havoc on a building-tumbling scale that would have Godzilla roaring approval.