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Leto and Robbie can't keep 'Suicide Squad' from going kamikaze
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto as The Joker in "Suicide Squad." - photo by Josh Terry
SUICIDE SQUAD 2 stars Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne; PG-13 (sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language); in general release

Imagine The Dirty Dozen with super-villains. Thats the idea behind Suicide Squad, the latest entry in the DC stable of comic book movies.

Unfortunately, a great idea does not equal a great movie. Suicide Squad is a perfect reflection of its soundtrack: its got a lot of great pieces, but director David Ayer never matches the perfect song to a perfect moment. A lot of quality performances are undercut by a weak story, and Suicide Squad kamikazes its way into a clunky disappointment.

The story takes place in the same cinematic universe that just saw Batman duke it out with Superman a few months ago. The powers that be in Gotham are worried about the recent uptick in metahumans, so they decide to fight fire with fire. Their plan: draft the citys nastiest prisoners into a crime-fighting all-star team and keep them in check by putting explosive implants in their necks that will detonate at the first sign of misbehavior.

The team includes an assassin named Deadshot (Will Smith), a scaly He-Man called Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and a psychologist-turned-psychopath named Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). A military operative named Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is assigned to be the teams leader/baby sitter, but the woman pulling everyones strings (Viola Davis) might be more dangerous than all of them.

The teams first call to action comes when a mysterious teleporting witch named Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) sets up shop in a downtown train station and starts building a super-weapon.

The squads job is simple: fight their way downtown to take out Enchantress and her super-weapon. Luckily, it takes over half the movie for Enchantress to build the weapon. There are complications, though. Enchantress has possessed the body of Flags girlfriend, so they cant exactly take her out from a distance. Also, Quinns boyfriend The Joker (Jared Leto) is pretty intent on breaking her out of custody.

The idea is sound, but the follow-through is clumsy. Suicide Squad should be a high-energy piece of campy craziness, but too often its jokes feel awkward against the films self-serious tone. (This could be explained by rumors that Ayer added several last-minute re-shoots to better suit the trailers dark and humorous tone.)

Theres plenty of action to go around, but the flash falls flat against a story that feels lifeless. The Enchantress character feels especially flawed. Shes an intriguing threat because she can teleport, but instead the story keeps her rooted at the train station, waving her hands around in an awkward CGI hocus-pocus shot that, by the films reckoning, must last for hours while everyone else battles outside.

Ayer tries to develop some additional character motivation for Deadshot and a human flamethrower named Diablo (Jay Hernandez), but none of it feels sufficient to justify their actions, especially late in the film.

Robbie has a lot of fun as Harley Quinn, but the films biggest dose of publicity has surrounded her on-screen boyfriend. Letos performance is an impressive effort, but it almost feels wasted against such mediocre material.

Maybe its a case of too little screen time for too many characters (especially if you happen to be a fan of Slipknot), but no one manages to distinguish themselves outside of Robbie and Leto. Smith is front and center but really doesnt have much to do, and the Rick Flag role feels like it needed a better-known actor to keep the other stars in check.

As part of the DC Universe, there are plenty of references to outside characters and setups (including a post-credits scene) for future films. Fans will also enjoy a cameo from the new Batman, now played by Ben Affleck.

But sadly theres nothing here that will leave fans salivating for a Suicide Squad sequel. On paper, everything about this movie suggested a manic piece of dark, guilty, cheer-for-the-bad-guys fun. The pieces are all there, but the hits are choked out by the weak filler.

Suicide Squad is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language; running time: 123 minutes.
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