[Screen It]


(2016) (Will Smith, Margot Robbie) (PG-13)

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Action: A disparate group of criminals and prisoners are assembled to take on otherworldly threats.
With the arrival and then apparent death of Superman, the government is concerned that the next all-powerful being that arrives on Earth might not be so friendly to humans. Accordingly, government official Amanda Waller (VIOLA DAVIS) has created Task Force X, a top-secret operation of assembling some of the world's most feared and dangerous criminals and prisoners and turning them into an unlikely team of anti-superheroes. The military brass aren't so sure of the plan, what with worries that she and her right-hand man, Col. Rick Flag (JOEL KINNAMAN), won't be able to control them. But when she demos the teleportation powers of the Enchantress -- a thousands of years old witch who's possessed the body of archeologist June Moore (CARA DELEVINGNE) -- to steal enemy documents, they're convinced and the operation is approved.

Among those selected is the highly paid assassin Deadshot (WILL SMITH); Boomerang (JAI COURTNEY) who uses his namesake weapon when committing his crimes; fellow criminal Slipknot (ADAM BEACH); former gang member turned man of peace El Diablo (JAY HERNANDEZ) who has the ability to control fire; a deformed man with reptilian features and abilities, Killer Croc (ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE); and former psychiatrist turned dangerous if seductive lunatic Harley Quinn (MARGOT ROBBIE). She's the girlfriend to psychopathic master criminal The Joker (JARED LETO) who's hatching his own plan to get her out of prison. They're joined by martial arts expert Katana (KAREN FUKUHARA) who works with Flag and is a vengeful woman wanting to avenge her husband's death at the hands of criminals.

They're all called into action when the Enchantress completely takes over June's body and releases her equally supernatural brother, Incubus (ROBIN ATKIN DOWNES), who takes over a man's body and turns into a monster that begins to ravage the city. As the so-called Suicide Squad is called into action to deal with that -- and prevented from escaping due to small explosives planted into their necks -- they must also contend with the Enchantress starting to build a weapon to destroy all of humankind.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
While smaller, independent films can and often do get made in relatively short amounts of time, moving a big budget film -- especially a studio tent-pole where lots of money, industry reputation and jobs are on the line -- from concept to the light of a projector can be an arduous process, often taking many years to pull off.

Along the way, all sorts of things can happen for good and bad, including the fortunes and failures of other movies of the same ilk. Take, for instance, how that relates to "Suicide Squad" the latest entry in the DC Comics movie cannon. Reportedly back in the works before 2010, the film began shooting in April 2015 and is being released some eighteen months later.

During that time, the cast, crew, and powers that be must have been overjoyed at the success of "Guardians of the Galaxy" last August and then "Deadpool" this spring. While those were Marvel Comics properties, the fact that both became huge hits would seem to be good news as the former featured an unlikely teaming of anti-heroes in heroic roles and the latter a great deal of snark and non-traditional superhero trappings.

But then along came "Batman v Superman," the second entry in the so-called DC Extended Universe of trying to cross-populate and pollinate new superhero movies along the lines of what Marvel did with its standalone movies leading up to the "Avengers" flicks. While it made money, all of that was front-loaded as the pic, much like "Man of Steel" before it, was criticized by reviewers and moviegoers as being too serious, grim and lacking in fun or sheer entertainment value.

Panicked, the powers that be at the studio then called for new footage for "Suicide Squad" to be shot in hopes of inserting such missing qualities. Reports are various editors then got their mitts on the film and cut a decidedly different version from what director David Ayers originally intended.

While that's probably not uncommon for films with budgets north of nine figures, it's only okay if such alternations don't show in the finished product. Alas, what ends up on the screen in this tale of criminals and prisoners forced into an unlikely team to battle even worse "bad guys" is an unmitigated mess.

Horribly edited (no surprise there), uneven in terms of tone (ditto) and featuring a muddled story and a lackluster villain and related menace that would have been rejected in lesser films, this effort is a bust. I'm sure it will make lots of money up front, but like "Batman v Superman" it should get burnt by most critics and by the time all the bean counters have done their counting, it could likely be considered a financial failure.

All of which is too bad as there is some potential present. Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto can be magnetic on the screen, and the characters they inhabit here (a highly paid assassin, a deranged yet sexy psychopath and her equally disturbed boyfriend -- previously played by the likes of none other than Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger) are, at times, mesmerizing to watch.

And Ayer obviously brings his own potential to the table, what with having previously written "Training Day" and directed the WWII tank film "Fury." But he seems over his head with this much bigger film, and the script he's written does him no favors, especially in terms of what happens after the titular team is assembled.

It all has to do with an enchantress who sort of possesses an architect (both played by Cara Delevingne) but can't really let loose with her sorcery due to the steely government official (Viola Davis) who literally has the witch's heart in her possession. To compensate, said sorceress resurrects her brother's spirit, puts that into a bystander's body, turns him into some sort of ancient god-monster, and then creates a bunch of monster minions who look like rocky humanoids with moving blisters all over their bodies.

In short, they're dispensable targets for all of the action carnage that's to follow, although all of that comes off like a bad sci-fi film in terms of said action and special effects. Anyway, she wants to wipe out humanity and is trying to build some sort of weapon to do the trick, all of which is never explained and looks like it should have taken place in the "Ghostbusters" reboot rather than this film.

At the same time, Leto's Joker character is plotting to spring his pretty young thing from her penal environs, although most of his overall footage takes place in flashback as Ayer attempts to explain his modus operandi of him along with that of the rest of the characters.

All of which, with the "help" of the numerous editors, gives the film a choppy and discordant feel that never lets the viewer truly get wrapped up in them or the story. Perhaps Ayers' pre-studio intrusion and apparently less jovial and light-hearted version works better. As it stands, however, "Suicide Squad" is an absolute cinematic mess and train wreck. It rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed August 2, 2016 / Posted August 5, 2016

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