Critic reaction: ″Suicide Squad’ isn’t much fun’

August 5, 2016 GMT

Faced with a world without Superman (as revealed in the film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”) and the protection he provides from global threats, government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has a crazy backup plan. Rather than allowing supervillains to go to waste behind bars, she proposes tapping into their talents for the common good.

Waller concedes that keeping them in line could be problematic, but she has just the man for the job: tough, no-nonsense Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman).

Although Waller’s superiors are skeptical of her scheme, they’re just as concerned about being caught unprepared. So they greenlight the release of a squad of highly skilled sociopaths — among them coolheaded hit man Deadshot (Will Smith), playfully sexy psycho Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and remorseful pyromaniac Diablo (Jay Hernandez).

The team isn’t assembled a moment too soon. The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), an evil spirit with whom Waller is well-acquainted, is out to eliminate the human race. And it will take nothing less than the total commitment of the untested Suicide Squad to defeat her.

Unfortunately, the team has attracted the attention of another supervillain: the Joker (Jared Leto), who’s determined to rescue Harley Quinn and resume their twisted romance.

“Suicide Squad” had the potential to be as hilariously irreverent as “Deadpool,” a surprise box-office hit about a similarly sociopathic hero. Instead, it’s just another film that relies on special effects to distract the audience from a story that’s overblown and underwhelming.

That’s disappointing coming from writer-director David Ayer, whose last film — the superb World War II drama, “Fury” (2014) — had moral resonance and a sense of urgency. In contrast, “Suicide Squad” is an interminable muddle.

But Smith brings his usual charisma to Deadshot, Davis lends scary authority to Waller, and Robbie is superficial but entertaining as Harley Quinn.

And as the Joker, Leto is a worthy successor to Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger.

What: “Suicide Squad” • 2½ stars out of four • Run time 2:03 • Rating PG-13 • Content Violence and action, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language