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‘The Suicide Squad’ reviews praise James Gunn’s R-rated adventure as 'nothing short of brilliant'

By Josh Weiss

With just a few weeks to go until The Suicide Squad drops into theaters — and onto HBO Max — the social and review embargoes for James Gunn's R-rated DC extravaganza has mercifully lifted.

Does Gunn, the man who turned the rather obscure Guardians of the Galaxy into a multi-billion dollar franchise at Disney, redeem the 2016 movie about Task Force X?

The answer seems to be a resounding "YES!!!"

Lucky fans who got the chance to check out early screenings of the comic book film have nothing but phenomenal things to say about the project, which they're describing as "a fun, violent and entertaining film that feels like a perfectly balanced mix of blood, comedy and heart."

Gunn himself has retweeted a number of positive reactions on Twitter. For instance, Gabriel Torres wrote that the writer-director "has ushered in a new era" of movies inspired by the DC Universe. That's high praise for an onscreen mythos that's struggled to find its footing in the shadow of the MCU.

IGN's Joshua Yehl concluded the following: "James Gunn absolutely kills it with The Suicide Squad. The film is a bloody, chaotic ride from start to finish that finally does justice to Task Force X. It’s endlessly shocking and funny, and its showcase of F-list DC villains is nothing short of brilliant."

IndieWire declares it to be "the least depressing superhero movie in a long time," which is an obvious jab at the drabber DCEU tone established by Zack Snyder. Nevertheless, reviewer David Ehrlich — who describes the film as "deliriously ultra-violent" — only awarded it a grade of B+.

Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly went a tad lower with a C+, writing that Gunn's screenplay "herks and jerks along with a sort of forced-festive glee, its mounting body count buffeted by goofball banter and pounding soundtrack cues. A good half of the jokes don't land, but unlike his predecessor's joyless slog, Gunn's version at least celebrates the nonsense — happily swerving into random character moments and stylistic pieces of flare."

Caleb Bradley called it "a cosmic mix of the action of the 90s combined w/ exploitation films of the 70s. It's hyper-violence but it knows that it is. It's a little bit Tarantino. Definitely a little bit Michael Mann. It's kind of a cosmic gumbo. It almost moves to the beat of jazz."

Fandango's Erik Davis praised Idris Elba (Bloodsport) and David Dastmalchian (Polka-Dot Man) as standouts, while adding that "this was the best we've seen of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Her journey in this film is actually quite lovely… and quite bloody!"

Check out some more reactions below:

Writing for Variety, critic Owen Gleiberman states that the finished product is "cunningly scuzzy, disreputable fun." He adds that Gunn completely redeems the misstep that was the 2016 film: "The Suicide Squad gets it right, honing that rogue attitude to a much sleeker edge of outrage."

The Hollywood Reporter's John Defore stresses that while Gunn's movie "ignores David Ayer's 2016 dud," it isn't a reboot. "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."

In a three-star review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw does use the term "reboot," writing that he found The Suicide Squad to be "a long, loud, often enjoyable and amusing film that blitzes your eyeballs and eardrums and covers all the bases."

John Cena (Peacemaker), Nathan Fillion (T.D.K.), Pete Davidson (Blackguard), Peter Capaldi (The Thinker), Alice Braga (Sol Soria), Storm Reid (Tyla DuBois), Sean Gunn (Weasel), Steve Agee (King Shark, John Economos), Michael Rooker (Savant), Daniela Melchior (Ratcatcher 2), Flula Borg (Javelin), and Sylvester Stallone (the voice of King Shark) co-star in the movie.

The Suicide Squad arrives in theaters and on HBO Max Friday, Aug. 6.