Suicide Squad review: Falling far short of expectations |

Suicide Squad review: Falling far short of expectations

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows, from left, Jai Courtney as Boomerang, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Will Smith as Deadshot, Karen Fukuhara as Katana, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc and Jay Hernandez as Diablo, in a scene from "Suicide Squad." (Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)
AP | Warner Bros. Pictures


*1/2 (C-)

Directed By David Ayer

Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Jaime

FitzSimons, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Paramount, PG-13, Action, Fantasy, 130 minutes

“We are defenseless when superheroes go rogue, or super villains attack,” argues United States government national security agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis).

She attempts to solve the problem by drafting a half-dozen meta-humans (the extraordinarily gifted or talented) in a “Dirty Dozen” deal that allows the villains to earn back or keep their freedom by following Waller’s orders.

To oversee the squad’s fieldwork, Waller recruits special ops commander Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). She chooses Flag because she can control him absolutely.

Flag’s girlfriend, archeologist June Moone (Cara Delevingne), is possessed by the spirit of an ancient and powerful evil witch that sometimes takes over her body. She’s known as the Enchantress, whose murky look is Goth meets Mayan princess. As June, she loves Flag, whose original assignment was to keep June from doing harm in her Enchantress form.

Waller coerces her conscriptees to do her bidding by implanting an explosive device for which she has the detonator, into each one’s brain.

Aside from June Moone, Waller’s recruits include the gifted marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), the Joker’s (Jared Leto) girlfriend Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), reptilian hybrid Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), flame-throwing Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Boomerang (Jai Courtney), whose talent is the stuff of myths.

After showing us Waller’s squad members in lockdown, we are treated to an encapsulated version of each one’s former life. Little of it is interesting because its sentimentality and pandering.

With the exception of Waller herself, there is little to fascinate other than Harley and Diablo who are slow-motion trainwrecks you can’t take your eyes off. Smith, whose talent is playing a weary Everyman carrying the world on his shoulders, has almost nothing to work with.

The plot calls for the Suicide Squad members to alternately refuse their orders or kill armies of faceless baddies at an astounding rate, all with no discernible changes to their motivations.

It’s difficult to connect with any of them. The script atones when Flag and his soldiers, feeling under appreciated, gather in a bar where they discover that helping Flag to protect his true love is a cause they can all get behind.

Brilliant action sequences might have pulled this one out of the doldrums, but the battle scenes are confusingly over-edited efforts to feature each performer. Meanwhile, Waller’s unflinching focus and her abnormal moral code, ensure that we want to know more about her.

An excellent sequence depicts Deadshot enjoying a target practice that almost makes amends for the years he’s spent behind bars. Having being given a choice of costumes over their orange prison jumpsuits, we’re flummoxed by Harley’s choice of platform shoes, tiny shorts and a midriff shirt for her crime-fighting costume.

Misjudging what will draw us in, and what might push us away, “Suicide Squad” does little of the former and much of the latter — that’s one way a film can commit suicide.

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