“The Suicide Squad” Review: Margot Robbie and Idris Elba Exude Charisma in Antihero Action Romp

Joel Kinnaman, Alice Braga, Daniela Melchior, Idris Elba and John Cena in “The Suicide Squad.” Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros. Pictures

Rating: 7/10

Don’t get too attached to anyone in The Suicide Squad, which opens in theaters and on HBO Max this Friday, August 6. The list of marquee names in the James Gunn-written and -directed addition to David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016) is so long that not everyone is meant to last. The movie brings back a few characters from the previous installment and allows us to once again enjoy Harley Quinn’s (Margot Robbie) naïve sense of humor and chic style. Like the first film, it also stars the steely-eyed Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) as the mastermind behind Task Force X’s deathly assignments.

Don’t be anxious if you’re not a DC Extended Universe (DCEU) scholar. Even if you haven’t watched 2016’s Suicide Squad, you’ll be able to follow this standalone sequel. The only thing you need to know is that Belle Reve has the highest mortality rate in the country and is the prison where super-villains are kept. In order to get their sentences reduced, some of them join Task Force X, aka the Suicide Squad, and enroll on impossible missions that may end up saving the world. The job this time is to travel to the island nation of Corto Maltese and destroy a Nazi-era lab that houses the classified Project Starfish.

Academy Award-winner Davis probably won’t receive another Oscar nomination for her role here. But only because the Academy doesn’t usually go for superhero movies. Still, you need an actress of her caliber to play Waller with such conviction. It’s a thrill to look at her unmoved face when her character realizes the poor job her staff has done while putting together a team of assassins. Plus, she looks great in a lilac pencil skirt power suit.

Elba, wearing orange Crocs and meticulously cleaning the prison’s floor, is also a real treat. He plays the marksman and reluctant Squad member Bloodsport — and he gets to keep his suave British accent while doing it. Then there’s Robbie. Her Harley Quinn has a very welcome post-Birds of Prey moment in which she deals with a bad relationship in quite a mature way — for Harley’s standards, that is — and she kicks ass as no other character does in this movie.