What an incredible mess of a movie.

Much like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice earlier this year, the plot of Suicide Squad is just an excuse to move from one action sequence to another, highlighting the abilities of each of the characters and giving them a reason to make things explode in a way that looks cool.

After the events of Dawn of Justice, the government decides to create a team of super


villains to fight a super-duper villain. Formally known as Task Force X (a name not as flashy and marketable as Suicide Squad), each member of the team has a small bomb implanted in their neck in order to keep them on track and prevent escaping.

The team is made up of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Will Smith’s Deadshot, and several other characters that are totally uninteresting and devoid of charisma. Jay Hernandez plays El Diablo, a Hispanic stereotype with pyrokinetic powers. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays Killer Croc, who seems to be half-man, half-crocodile, which seems like more of a limitation than a superpower. Adam Beach plays Slipnot, a bad guy whose menacing secret weapon is… rope. And Jai Courtney plays Captain Boomerang, a guy who can, uh, throw a boomerang. I might even be leaving out a few characters. They are utterly forgettable.

We are introduced to all of these characters in a long, clunky scene full of expository flashbacks when Viola Davis, playing Amanda Waller, explains to other government officials who each of the members of the new team will be. We were about 20 minutes and two characters into these flashbacks when I realized we were going to have to sit through a similar vignette for each of them. It was slow and painful.

The super-duper villain they’re assembled to defeat is the Enchantress, who has turned a whole city full of people into zombies. That brings the squad into sets that look like Escape From New York and repetitive fight scenes that look like The Walking Dead. We’ve seen all of this before, in a few places.

Margot Robbie brings an intriguing character to life in Harley Quinn, and as the DC Universe no doubt has many more releases in store, I look forward to her inevitable standalone movie. Quinn was a psychiatrist in Arkham Asylum whose constant exposure to violent, insane criminals creates cracks in her own mental health. That’s a promising premise, and it’s hard not to imagine what would have been done with it in the hands of someone like Christopher Nolan.

Quinn falls in love with Jared Leto’s Joker–who brings absolutely nothing new to that role in a performance that is entirely predictable. He has very little screen time and figures into the plot in only a tangential way.

Will Smith’s Deadshot could also get a standalone movie that’s much better than Suicide Squad. The guy is a really good shot. Not much of a superpower, but Will Smith is a great actor, so he’s at least interesting. If we see standalone movies about characters as forgettable as the crocodile guy or the boomerang guy, I would hope that signals the apocalypse of superhero movies.

DC is only three movies in, but on the whole, they are a lot less fun than the Marvel movies. Drop half a dozen characters, trim 45 minutes off Suicide Squad, and maybe they would have had something entertaining with the good parts that remained. But the plot, the characters, and the way the story is told are all over the place.

Title Suicide Squad
Director David Ayer
Writer David Ayer
Runtime 123 min
Starring Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto
Production Atlas Entertainment, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures