Suicide Squad wastes its potential to become the much needed antihero ensemble movie of the year with a by-the-numbers screenplay that’s also poorly written, badly executed, and overhyped.

Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super-Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself? [Warner Bros.]

With superhero movies sticking to their safe formulas, there is an urgent need for a break from codified franchises. Five years after the development of the antihero Deadpool for a movie adaptation (which would be shelved until Fox caved in to fan demand), Suicide Squad followed in the same month (February 2009), promising something different 7 years later.

Well, sort of.

Here we have an array of potentially endearing misfits played by little known to heavyweight actors. They all did well with the material they’re given, even when the screen time is disproportionately distributed. The casting is a great fit sans Enchantress and Joker. The former could have benefited from a more experienced actress while the latter can’t fill in the shoes left by a compelling talent. Cara Delevingne is unconvincing while Jared Leto can’t deliver the same intriguing psychopathy that Ledger was able to give in the role.

Unfortunately the makers of the Suicide Squad wasted their potential to create what could have been the antihero ensemble movie of the year.

Considering that this is a blockbuster superhero movie, a conventional story of unlikely heroes saving the day from the big bad is to be expected. I watched this before the shitstorm of dismal reviews went trending on Twitter and had no expectations whatsoever, this is DC after all. But even with this, Suicide Squad still doesn’t have much to offer.

Instead of using the dynamics of the group, the script focuses on the movie’s bankable actors while the rest are relegated to back-up players. Harley Quinn gets most of the highlights, but they make more sense in the trailer than in the scene they’re in. A bigger chunk of the screen time is given to Will Smith and Margot Robbie, whose character backstories kept muddling up the plot.

The movie spends more time on the cast’s over-sentimental flashbacks than delving into the characters to show the audience what makes them the worst of the worst. They’re pegged into cliched caricatures – the gunslinger on a mission, the crazy hopeless hobo, the oriental warrior on a quest for vengeance, the brony wildcard with an odd fetish, the love-struck straight arrow, the misunderstood creature, and the repenting gangster.

So what we end up with are thinly written meta-beings. It doesn’t help that the action doesn’t put their abilities to good use. In between Joker’s meddling and explosions, the fight scenes are generic, highlighted with a predictable slow motion shot. Diablo, whose powers are a perfect fit for some big screen mayhem, has about two good scenes as if DC were scrimping on effects. Sadly, Suicide Squad doesn’t have someone like Whedon who have an eye for ensemble action engineering or The Russo Brothers for good old fashion mano a mano.

It seems that David Ayer played it straight to stay within the PG rating but doesn’t bother to tweak the contrived and predictable B-movie quality story (with Rick Flag as the expository device) to keep it safe, which is ironic and unfortunate for a movie about super-villainy. Here, our heroes have plenty of time running around and reflecting on their life before they can finally come together and defeat the big bad. It’s not even clear how this big bad is going to destroy the world and with all their powers, only managed to create weak henchmen and get destroyed by predictable tactics. In the end, the magic of friendship and flipping motivations saves the day.

While DC ain’t Marvel, the audience still deserved something better from an adaptation that could be a reprieve from all the superhero movies who keep recycling their greatest hits. Somewhere inside this latest DC failure is a story about how the government is no different than the criminals it locks up, but it’s lost in a movie with oddly placed jokes, negligible characters, and generic blockbuster fanfare.

My Rating: 3/10

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