The superhero epic gets a welcome subversion in this hilarious, gleefully profane, violent and occasionally icky exercise in proudly juvenile thrills. With heart.
Ignoring, but not contradicting, 2016's shockingly inert Suicide Squad, this vastly superior follow-up brings back only a smattering of characters (chiefly Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flag) and teams them up with a large number of new "heroes" (Idris Elba's Bloodsport and John Cena's Peacemaker the most prominent, alongside people with names like King Shark, Javelin and Ratcatcher 2) for a deadly mission to a military base in a fictional South American island nation. Emphasis on the deadly.
With a crazy number of death-as-punchline moments and more ridiculous heroes than you can shake a giant alien starfish at, this DC Comics adaptation is an absolute hoot. Conceived with its US R-rating in mind (it's R16 in New Zealand), writer/director James Gunn is clearly having the time of his life embracing the inherent absurdity of the modern superhero team film.
Character-centric blockbuster chops honed across both Guardians of the Galaxy films ensure Gunn more than delivers in terms of spectacle, but he also gets wear his exploitation cinema roots on his sleeve and get weird. The large degree of personality that comes through is sadly rare in films of this scale - it's delightful!
There isn't a bum note among the gargantuan cast (which includes Taika Waititi in a small role) and Gunn ensures everyone gets their moment - his ability to juggle an ensemble is unrivalled. Cena delivers the most revelatory performance as the hilariously humourless Peacemaker, and David Dastmalchian offers spectacularly awkward pathos as the tormented Polka-Dot Man.
Although perhaps somewhat ephemeral in the final assessment, this is nevertheless a fantastic counterpoint to the shiny, friendly polish of most comic book movies.
Cast: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena
Director: James Gunn
Running time: 132 minutes
Rating: R16 (Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty)
Verdict: Violent, gross and a whole heap of fun.