starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman
written and directed by David Ayer
by Walter Chaw Ugly garbage that will make a lot of money, David Ayer's Suicide Squad begins where Batman v Superman left off by positing that in a world without its big, mopey, solipsistic, Byronic Boy Scout, there will come a time when the good guys (i.e., us) will need to enlist the help of a bunch of psychopathic mutants and contract killers to protect our way of life. It's a little bit like Escape from New York but not cool and not fun; and it's a little bit like a satire, except that it's more of a documentary. Marvel films are aspirational and DC films in this new cycle are diseased and beaten. Both are bloated beyond repair and slavish to a core fandom they daren't betray, making them essentially unwatchable along their tentpole storylines--though you want less to kill yourself after the Marvel films. The bright light lately has been one-offs and side projects: Marvel's television universe, for instance, has blossomed on Netflix and DC's own TV series "The Flash" and "Supergirl" seem to hear the music. Then, of course, there's Guardians of the Galaxy. The only thing worse than the kernel of an idea at the centre of Suicide Squad is its unlikely choice of writer-director to bring it to life, Ayer, perhaps the most vile, pessimistic filmmaker in the United States, whom Warner Bros. has given the task of appealing broadly somehow with this material: a little softening here, an extra scene/hero moment there after gauging the breakout star from the reaction to early teaser trailers. If you're going to hire Ayer to do this, make it a hard-R and take out the yuk-yuk comedy. He's not funny. He's not for kids. The strain of pleasing dozens of masters shows. It shows in the select mix of fondly-remembered oldies à la Guardians of the Galaxy, and it shows in the flop-sweat of an entire production so badly compromised by its too-big star and its too-threatened masculinity.