After months (and months) of anticipation, it would seem like James Gunn set himself up for an almost insurmountable task in delivering on expectations for The Suicide Squad. The trailers were a hilarious blast, the internet immediately fell in love with King Shark, and Gunn’s work on Guardians of the Galaxy is highly regarded. However, The Suicide Squad exists in an odd, nebulous space where it’s not quite a sequel to David Ayer’s 2016 film, yet it’s not entirely a reboot either.
It’s an odd tightrope to walk, but according to first batch of reviews, Gunn absolutely nailed it. The overwhelming consensus is that The Suicide Squad pulls off the rare and impressive feat of rejuvenating a franchise after a lackluster and critically-derided first film. Not only that, but Gunn makes the whole thing fun as hell in the process. Almost every review plants its flag on calling The Suicide Squad the best DC Comics film in a long time, if not one of the best films in the whole genre. (Your move, Marvel.)
Here are just some of the reviews pouring in:
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
I can’t think of another movie quite as dreadful, and was as big a bomb as Suicide Squad, then to have a sequel that is as well made and, frankly, competent as The Suicide Squad — it’s such a unique situation.
Richard Trenholm, CNET:
There’s a reason it’s called The Suicide Squad and not Suicide Squad 2. Less of a sequel and more of a desperately needed do-over, this scabrous, side-splitting and surprisingly smart supervillain romp is the definite article.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety:
“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”).
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
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.
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly:
Instead of acknowledging its almost identically titled predecessor, the new installment simply sheds all memory of it, like a bad Tinder date or a vestigial tail — even as it retains the mythology, most of the characters, and the general pandemonium of its original premise.
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter:
Not only does it find the nastily enjoyable vibe that eluded its predecessor, but it also tells a story worth following — while balancing its most appealing character with others whose disposability (they aren’t sent on suicide missions for nothin’) doesn’t prevent them from being good company onscreen. Bonus: Unlike Ayer, Gunn never looks at Robbie as if he’s hoping for a lap dance.
Pete Hammond, Deadline:
Gunn clearly loves the DC comic book and has brought together a rollicking group of supervillains for a really entertaining hard-R-rated take on the property that has just as much in common with ’60s-era movies like The Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes as it does with most of the DC canon. Gunn says he was inspired by those films in coming up with this new version, and it shows — in a good way.
Olly Richards, Empire:
It would be enough for this just to be a very funny action-comedy, but Gunn also puts in some light-touch criticism of America’s role in international affairs. The gang kills first and asks questions later. Peacemaker, like a very right-wing Captain America, believes in “peace at any cost”. Gunn shows that you can have something to say while still delivering great gags.
The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max on August 6, 2021.