Gunn cleverly avoids many of the problems of the opening scenes of David Ayer’s take on this corner of the DC Universe by dropping a dozen or so characters into the action (thereby not giving us a repeat of that hour or so of introductions from the Ayer misfire). For the record, this is kind of half-sequel, half-reboot wherein some actors play the same characters but it’s also very much a standalone film. You really don’t need to have seen the Ayer (and probably shouldn’t) but it’s also not entirely a fresh start.
For example, Viola Davis is one of the returning folks from the last film, once again playing Amanda Waller, the head of something called Task Force X. She is in charge of what is essentially the Suicide Squad, a collection of superpowered criminals who are sent into battle with chips embedded in the back of their heads. Go off mission, go boom. Don’t do what you’re told, go boom. Say something wrong to Waller, go boom. Most of these anti-heroes don’t return. Hence, the name.
Waller has assembled a crew to drop off the shore of a South American island called Corto Maltese. It’s led by the charismatic Rick Flag (a solidly heroic Joel Kinnaman, used much more effectively here) and the eternally twisted Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), but also includes the likes Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), Javelin (Flula Borg), Mongal (Mayling Ng), and the nightmare fuel called the Weasel (Sean Gunn), which is a wide-eyed, six-foot, well, weasel. Going along to Corto Maltese on his first mission is Savant (Gunn regular Michael Rooker), who kind of leads the film at first.
We’re just getting started with characters. Take notes.
At the same time that this group is heading into certain death, another collection is landing on an opposite beach, basically allowing team one to be the distraction. They’re the real center of “The Suicide Squad” and they consist of the born leader Bloodsport (Idris Elba), the blindly patriotic Peacemaker (John Cena), the insecure Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), the charming Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), and the unforgettable King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), whose basic superpower seems to be his desire to eat his enemies (and possibly his friends if it comes to that). When this core is joined by Flag and Quinn, the movie really gets going, sending the team off to destroy a Nazi-era prison in the heart of the island where it turns out a powerful alien creature named Starro is being housed. A lot of chaos ensues.