‘Suicide Squad’ a wasted opportunity at nearly every turn

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Margot Robbie (clockwise from left), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Will Smith, Jai Courtney and Karen Fukuhara appear in the film, “Suicide Squad.” | WARNER BROS.

What a waste of a perfectly twisted Suicide Squad.

With a warning of mild SPOILER ALERTS to follow, let us count just some of the ways “Suicide Squad” is one of the most disappointing movies of the year:

— The dimly-lit, quick-cut, rapid-fire action sequences could have been cut and pasted from any number of second-tier superhero and/or action thrillers of the last decade.

— For the umpteenth time, we get a villain who talks in one of those gloom-and-doom voices that sound like James Earl Jones crossed with Auto-Tune.

— After months of online hype that threatened to bring the internet to its knees, Jared Leto’s Joker (while somewhat creepy and menacing) doesn’t come close to scraping the surface of the memorably spine-chilling work done by Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight.”

— The backstories involving the families of Will Smith’s Deadshot and Jay Hernandez’ El Diablo are so hokey, so over-the-top corny, you’re more likely to roll your eyes than to fight back the tears.

— In scene after scene after SCENE, writer/director David Ayer leans on well-worn pop/rock tunes to augment the clichéd shots of the Suicide Squad walking in tandem, the Suicide Squad creating mayhem, the Suicide Squad, um, trying on wardrobe options. “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum? AGAIN?

— The stunning and talented, Margot Robbie, riding a wave of success from “The Wolf of Wall Street” to the cover of Vanity Fair, hits all the wrong notes as the bat-wielding and supposedly bat-bleep crazy Harley Quinn. I think Robbie is going for some kind of tough-chick New-YAWK accent as she delivers her one-liners in a self-pleased manner and then pauses for the deadpan reaction from her fellow cast members and (Ayer must have been hoping) laughs from the audience. Whatever she’s doing, it’s a wildly uneven performance, and it’s just not good. Very little about this film is good.

When you’ve got model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne as one of your chief villains, and she’s writhing and wriggling about in embarrassing fashion, spouting lines that make Dothraki sound like Shakespeare, you’re not just dipping your toes into camp territory, you’re getting soaked.

For those of you that don’t have Comic-Con and various other “Cons” marked in red on your Google Calendar, “Suicide Squad” is based on the DC Comics series about a band of incarcerated supervillains who are released from prison as part of a government program to combat the next otherworldly, super-human, supernatural threat to the nation.

Bad idea, government.

Viola Davis, playing it straight down the line as if she’s in a serious drama, is Amanda Waller, the heartless genius who comes up with the idea of releasing these misfits, mutants and psychos, who will be under the command of Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag, a gung-ho soldier.

The Suicide Squad includes Will Smith as Deadshot, an assassin for hire who has literally never missed a shot; Jai Courtney as Boomerang, and we know he’s colorful because he has a gold front tooth; Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, who can shoot fire from his limbs when he gets riled up; Robbie as the aforementioned Harley Quinn, a former psychiatrist who fell in love with the Joker and lost her mind; and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, a reptilian monster who’s at home in the sewers.

Okay, that’s an interesting bunch — but the Suicide Squad’s first and really only mission is a muddled and uninvolving rescue operation in which they don’t know the ultimate goal (although we can pretty much figure it out from the get-go).

Making matters worse, far too much time is spent on Cara Delevingne’s June Moone/Enchantress character, who might well be mesmerizing and multi-layered and daunting in the comics, but comes across as something out of a bad “Mummy” movie sequel here. Enchantress converts soldiers into CGI-lookin’ henchmen who are easily dispatched by the Suicide Squad, while her brother Incubus (Robin Atkin Downes) unleashes Special Effects Fury on Midway City.

Ho. Hum.

(This is also one of those superhero movies where there don’t seem to be a ton of actual regular human beings around. It rarely feels as if it’s taking place in OUR universe.)

“Suicide Squad” does have its moments of beautiful comic-book visuals. A glimpse of the Joker’s OCD; a gorgeous and weird flashback to the moment Harley Quinn was “baptized;” blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos from DC Universe stalwarts; a few solid exchanges between Smith and Kinnaman. Those are just tantalizing hints of a better movie that never materialized.

More indicative of the overall quality of the product: On a few occasions we get subtitles in this film, as characters speak in the ancient language of wherever the heck they’re from.

Two actual lines of dialogue:

“It’s on bitch.”

“Now you’re screwed.”

I’m reasonably certain we never saw those subtitles in a Bergman film, or even through any of the “Star Trek” timelines.


Warner Bros. presents a film directed by David Ayer. Written by Ayer, based on the DC Comics characters. Running time: 130 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.) Opening Friday at local theaters.

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