Suicide Squad | Movie+TV Reviews | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published August 10, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.

As a boy, I watched "Superman" every day after school. You know, the one played by George Reeves. Whom Ben Affleck played so affectingly in Hollywoodland (2006). Later, I watched the Batman series. The one on TV, not the franchise in which the latest incarnation of the Caped Crusader is played by Ben Affleck. My point is that, by the time I'd reached adulthood, I'd gotten the whole guys-in-tights-and-capes thing out of my system and therefore had minimal interest in movies like Daredevil (2003), which starred — guess who — Ben Affleck.

So I've been nonplussed as I've watched the movie industry morph into the superhero industry over the past decade. The Walt Disney Company bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009. Bet you didn't realize that all this time you've been watching Spider-Man, Thor and the Hulk, you've been watching Disney pictures. We've become a nation of adults who never outgrew movies from the house the Mouse built. I wonder what the psychiatrists would say.

DC Entertainment is Marvel's closest rival, and it has consistently come in a distant second. Suicide Squad is its all-in bid to steal the summer's thunder. The movie basically flips the script of The Avengers (2012), Joss Whedon's $1.5 billion international smash, which teamed the world's mightiest good guys to save the world from a silly supernatural threat. This time, the world's most dangerous villains are teamed to save the world from an even sillier supernatural threat. It may be profitable, but it ain't pretty.

It's a mirthless, moronic mess. Unlike the film's creators, I'll be brief: A government official (Viola Davis) has a brainstorm. She'll assemble a force composed of imprisoned miscreants and metahumans and use them as a weapon against anything the military can't handle. In exchange for reduced sentences (another brainstorm), the bad guys go along with the plan.

Of course, a silly supernatural threat conveniently arises the minute the motley crew is formed. And the next thing you know, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez and Adam Beach — you get the idea, right? Smith and Robbie are the only A-listers — are battling an army of faceless, rubbery demons using automatic rifles and a baseball bat. That's correct. With one exception, the Squad's members don't actually possess superpowers. Smith is just a really good shot. Robbie swings a mean Louisville Slugger. Courtney (I swear I'm not making this up) throws a boomerang at attackers.

The action is a been-there-done-that yawn, the obligatory wisecracks fall flat, and the CGI work looks like outtakes from Ghostbusters. The original. The only thing lamer is Jared Leto's cameo as the Joker. Let's just say the performances of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger are in no danger of being eclipsed.

Did I mention an unbelievable amount of screen time is devoted to Chanel model Cara Delevingne standing in front of a green screen playing a 7,000-year-old witch who wants ... to tell the truth, I never did figure out what? Or that an unbelievable amount of Robbie's posterior is exposed by her costume and leered at by the camera almost continuously?

David Ayer (Fury) wrote and directed, but you can't really blame him for this travesty. He just followed the blueprint DC handed him for its long-planned version of the Marvelverse. The real culprit is an influential Hollywood player who's joined DC's team in a big way. He starred in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he's been hired to produce the upcoming Justice League film, and he played a role in Suicide Squad, both on screen and behind the scenes as producer. Both of those roles went uncredited, and deserved to. Yup, you guessed it — it's our old buddy Ben Affleck.