It took some suicide to inject some life into the flagging DC cinematic universe.
A brazen, exuberant rush of cinematic sizzle that serves as an antidote for the brooding misery of "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," 'Suicide Squad" fuses its unlikely rogues gallery into a ridiculous but fascinating train wreck of an action flick. Director David Ayer manages to expand the interconnected DC movie world — laying the groundwork for a bevy of compelling characters that will pop up in later films — while spinning off a satisfying, self-contained one-shot.
Even as part of an ensemble, Will Smith as assassin Deadshot becomes the orbital center of the chaos, setting the tone with his trademark, one-liner-spouting charisma. He has plenty of able help, with sizzling Margot Robbie as sadistic gymnast Harley Quinn, Jared Leto as a demented Joker and Cara Delevingne as the horrifying witch, Enchantress. Several other characters -- way too many, actually, fill out the squad, serving mostly as bit players. The film's main flaw is that it lacks enough things to do for the likes of Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Boomerang (Jai Courtney).
The ludicrous yet necessary construct has a government agent (VIola Davis) assembling the world's most dangerous imprisoned costumed villains to serve as a last resort to fend off security threats that are too dangerous for superheroes to handle. Working with her hatchet man (Scott Eastwood), she implants the villains with microchip grenades that can be detonated with a cell phone app, allowing her to control each of the wildcards to a degree.
After a smooth, efficient setup, "Dirty Dozen"-style antics ensue, chaining one well-crafted set piece to the next. It's in the downtime, in which the characters vamp, grouse and chat, that the film's spirit truly comes into its own. Without those scenes as anchors, the unlikely chemistry that flowers among the festering trash wouldn't be relatable.
Behind-the-scenes stories have leaked out about the movie being a troubled production, riddled with infighting, as well as heavy-handed, studio-mandated reshoots to lighten up the tone. Whatever the revisions were, they turned out to be masterstrokes that boosted the material to fulfill the promise of the trailers. there is potential for a darker cut of the movie coming out as an extra on the Blu-ray.
While that prospect of an alternate take on the concept is appealing, it's hard to imagine it living up to the theatrical product. "Suicide Squad" is an exuberant mess that cleans up well.
RATING: 3 stars out of 4