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Suicide Squad, featuring an ensemble cast, is part origins tale, part black ops mission, part psycho love story - and totally messed up.

Don't bank on this Suicide Squad

05/08/2016 - 05:50

ET tu, Suicide Squad? Given the chance to strike at the heart of the mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe earlier this year with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the two most beloved stars in DC Comics' line-up barely registered a pulse on the excitement scale with its dreary take on the state of the superhero world. Now, a B-Team of lesser-known meta-humans try to take up the slack.

Fanboys and viewers with low expectations will prop up the box-office numbers - but even from a noisy, effects-driven summer blockbuster perspective, Suicide Squad - or The Expendables (2010) meets The Dirty Dozen (1967), only with a lot more make-up involved - is a major disappointment.

Written and directed by David Ayer, the film, featuring an ensemble cast, is part origins tale, part black ops mission, part psycho love story - and totally messed up. The presence of big names like Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Viola Davis - along with the ubiquitous rock- and hip-hop-infused soundtrack, does little to relieve the tedium.

You know the drill by now: the government has a secret plan to recruit the worst of the worst - the most dangerous super-criminals in the world - in a last-ditch effort to save the world. This murderer's row, recruited by government hardnose Amanda Waller (Davis), will have their sentences reduced if they follow orders; if they try to escape or misbehave in other ways, an explosive device implanted in their necks will be detonated.

Deadshot (Smith) is an assassin who never misses, able to send a speeding bullet into the skull of a victim from great distances, and with some panache too. He was reined in by a certain black-caped crusader (Ben Affleck) and now spends his days in prison, beating the daylights out of a punching bag.

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Harley Quinn (Robbie), a former prison psychiatrist who is crazy in love (crazy being the operative word) with her one-time patient The Joker (Jared Leto), wears hot pants, chews bubble gum and swings a baseball bat with wild abandon. Robbie is currently the blond actress of choice for roles that - one way or another - define female empowerment. Harley, who also gets to spout the best punchlines, is destined for bigger things: her own television series?

Other members of the squad may defer to Deadshot and Harley, but they each have a unique skill-set. Boomerang (Jai Courtney) is from Down Under and handy with, well, you know. El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), DC's answer to Marvel's Human Torch, is a pyro-kinetic homeboy who lights it up in a big way when riled, while Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is a mutant with a bad complexion and a temper to match. Slipknot (Adam Beach) makes a brief appearance but hardly figures in the plot.

Just to ensure that minorities are well represented, Katana (Karen Fukuhara) is a ninja who wields a mean samurai sword. She serves as protector to Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), the army officer in charge of the squad. His main squeeze is June Moon (Cara Delevingne), a scientist whose body has been possessed by an ancient witch known as The Enchantress. As the primary villain of the piece, she is spectacularly underwhelming - thanks to kitschy special effects and the fact that her evil witch's outfit looks more like a Victoria's Secret number gone terribly wrong. Like that costume, this Suicide Squad is dead on arrival.

Rating: C-