HOLLYWOOD—I might be the only person to say this, but I absolutely loved the 2016 flick “Suicide Squad.” There were a lot of people in the movie universe who panned and absolutely hated that movie. I was not one of those individuals. I thought it had a captivating plot, interesting characters, great narrative, tons of action and a fun villain. So I will admit I was bummed when I discovered a lot of the players in that flick, Jared Leto, Will Smith a few others would NOT be returning for this sequel titled “The Suicide Squad.”

Yeah, that is indeed a head scratcher I’m still trying to figure out America, but just go with it ok. While Smith and Leto’s absence is felt, I will admit the introduction of Idris Elba as Robert DuBois/Bloodsport and John Cena as Christopher Smith/Peacemaker. Elba suits that role that was inhabited by Smith, but at the same time has a bit of edge to him that makes him a fun character. He is easy to root for; and one could make the argument that it’s the result of a child in danger and having his arm twisted as a result of that by the wicked Amanda Waller (Viola Davis).

Davis is a hoot in this role. This woman is a fantastic actress who exudes a dark evil in this action-flick that works. She is a player, not the major player, but when she is on the screen she actually shines. Cena is actually great here. He is playing a heightened version of his wrestling character. Cena really immerses himself into the character, which has a pouty mouth, is a force of nature as a hero/villain and has some memorable scenes on the movie particularly in the forest. I won’t spoil what actually transpires there for the audience.

There is also the return of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I loved Robbie in “Suicide Squad.” She brought so much spunk and chaos to a character, who I thought was the biggest standout in that movie. Robbie is a notable player here, but her presence feels minor compared to Elba and Cena who tend to drive a vast majority of the narrative. Two of the characters who are great additions to this super villain bunch are Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchoir). The names speak for themselves: throwing polka dots and summoning rats to invade when needed.

Joel Kinnaman also returns as Rick Flag. He is not the focal point this time around, but he plays the part, needed. “The Suicide Squad” is not perfect though. I felt the first half of the movie; I had no idea what was taking place. There seemed to just be a lot and I mean a lot going on and it lacked a bit of cohesion. Once we get into the middle portion of the second act things really pick up narratively, the action excels to a tolerable level and I had a rooting interest into what was taking place.

James Gunn takes on directorial duties and presents the action and violence in a visceral way. I will admit the first 10-20 minutes of the movie were gut-punching. I mean some of the violence was a bit much for me, especially when our villains delve into what turns out to be an ambush. I did NOT need that visceral violence in my face to sell an action movie. I like the action, and Gunn absolutely delivers on that front where it is potent from start to finish.

However, another sour note this movie has is the villain. I thought this had to be one of the silliest and just baffling villains I can recall ever seeing on the big screen. I was laughing and telling myself at the same time, “Really? This is the big bad that our heroes have to go against.” I mean there was no other villain that could have been crafted to really give our heroes a battle and one that seemed threatening and not laughable.

“The Suicide Squad” entertained me, I didn’t love it, but I was not thoroughly disappointed by it either. It does a solid job, but in terms of being better than the predecessor it misses the mark slightly.