“The Suicide Squad is a fundamentally absurd idea,” says Olly Richards in Empire. The DC Comics film follows the same concept as the 2016 flop Suicide Squad – a group of superpowered criminals are sent into battle for America. If they behave badly, they’re killed. If they run away, they’re killed. But if they succeed, they get 10 years taken off their prison sentences. Most of them don’t make it out alive – hence the title. But while the 2016 version was dull and humourless, this fresh take is perfect – “unashamedly silly, but crucially never stupid”. This is mostly thanks to the new director, James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy fame. He has added a “The” to the title and cranked up the weirdness. In doing so “he’s produced the most enjoyable DC movie in years”.
Quite, says Brian Tallerico at RogerEbert.com. “You can tell that Gunn and his team are having a blast, and that kind of thing can be infectious.” The cast are just as giddy. Margot Robbie is splendid as the “twisted” Harley Quinn and Sylvester Stallone is “unforgettable” as a dopey but destructive talking shark. But it’s Idris Elba who comes out on top, as the supervillain Bloodsport. He’s the perfect action-movie lead. “The conversation about how he’d still be an excellent James Bond should start again.”
The Suicide Squad is in cinemas now. Watch the trailer here.
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Write Around the World
Richard E Grant’s new BBC series is a dream gig, says Gabriel Tate in the Telegraph. The actor jets around Europe with a bag full of books, exploring areas through the novels written about them. First up is Italy, where Grant goes from Positano, with a copy of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley, to Pompeii, with Robert Harris’s Pompeii. Other episodes tackle Spain with Ernest Hemingway and France with F Scott Fitzgerald. It’s cushy, certainly, but Grant is “irrepressibly good company”. He’s self-deprecating and charming: serious when the occasion demands it, breathlessly enthusiastic when it doesn’t.
It is a constant delight, says Suzi Feay in the FT. Grant has changed from his wiry Withnail and I days. “He’s softened into a naughty uncle, watching the world’s ways with the widest of grins.” But there’s seriousness too. His trip to Naples shows just how little has changed for the downtrodden Italian city. One of his chosen books is Pictures from Italy, an 1846 travelogue by Dickens, who lamented “the miserable depravity, degradation and wretchedness” that accompanied Naples’s celebrated vivacity. Norman Lewis’s memoir Naples ’44 was written a century later, but, Grant observes, says exactly the same thing.
Write Around the World is on BBC4. Watch the trailer here.