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The Suicide Squad (M18)

Starring Idris Elba, John Cena, Margot Robbie

Directed by James Gunn

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad has everything the first determiner-free Suicide Squad doesn’t: gore, swearing, jocularity and, well, better lighting. That said, it wasn’t entirely David Ayer’s fault the 2016 iteration of the DC property was watered-down and unremarkable (it did, however, win an Oscar for makeup), the result of the studio desperately trying to ram a square peg into a round hole (hey, let’s make it more Marvel-ish!). For the do-over, the powers that be wised up: They let the Guardians of the Galaxy helmer go full-tilt boogie with the story of a ragtag bunch of incarcerated miscreants (portrayed by a gleefully game ensemble; pity some of them don’t have a longer screen time) on a secret government mission in exchange for commuted sentences. The outcome: An inventively playful and deliriously yecchy reboot that doesn’t try to be part of a larger DC Extended Universe (it does set up for John Cena’s Peacemaker’s HBO Max spin-off series), but just the best standalone it can be. If the Guardians of the Galaxy were a K-pop group, then this Suicide Squad is a punk rock combo. Clearly, Gunn had been entrusted with the key to the city but was also granted permission to wreck it — and as a viewer, I’m more than happy to pick up the tab for the damages. (4/5 stars)

Photo: Warner Bros Pictures

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