Warner Bros.                  123Minutes                            PG-13

No Summer Movie had higher expectations than Suicide Squad. With Jared Leto as The Joker, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith playing Deadshot this has to be a sure hit, right? Well…not quite. This inaugural episode of a new DC Comics franchise is more tease than satisfying action blockbuster.

The major concept is pretty standard stuff. It revolves around getting a group of the worst incarcerated criminals to work FOR the government, battling evil alien powers about to destroy humanity. Superman was killed off in the last DC movie so the government is looking for new ways to defend us against supper villains.

Viola Davis is Amanda Waller, the U.S. intelligence officer who, in the course of doing her job, is just as evil as anyone on the Squad. But it’s wonderful to watch her deadpan fury as she pulls the strings to make these villains do exactly as she wants. She enlists Army officer Rick Flagg, played by Joel Kinsman, (House of Cards) to run the operation and kill anyone who flees the mission.

This movie feels like we’re watching director David Ayers get squished between the opposing forces. On one hand the studio wants to throw every special effect and explosion at the screen for instant profits while DC looks at this movie as the set up for the next five sequels. For instance, let’s give the audience the Joker in a fancy get up with a grill for teeth, but only in small doses. He’s noticeably underused.

Harley Quinn and Deadshot get the most screen time and attention to their backstory. Harley played by Margot Robbie, was once Psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel until she treats Jared Leto’s Joker and falls in love. Apparently she can’t resist his titanium teeth, face paint and neon colored wardrobe! We think Robbie is the most interesting of the villains. She commands the screen. She is crazy sexy, smart, scary, deadly but delightful. She is more appealing and interesting than Leto’s Joker. After all the hype, he doesn’t even play an integral part in this somewhat mangled storyline.

Viola Davis describes Robbie as Harley looking like some kind of “demented cheerleader.” She says it was frightening to come within an inch of her. But at the same time she showed this kind of vulnerability.

She also says Will Smith’s really brought a heroism to his character, Deadshot. There’s always a built in goodness and dignity about him. He’s the world’s most lethal assassin but his heart melts for his young daughter. His character is given the opportunity to act heroically, so despite the body count, Deadshot gets some love from the audience and he deserves it.

Smith says this film isn’t about good vs. evil but about bad vs. evil. But the cast bonded so fast when they started rehearsing, Writer/Director David Ayer (End of Watch) had to tell them to back off when they began shooting because they weren’t supposed to be that friendly in the film till later.

To his credit, Director Ayer is careful to make the Squad a diverse group, probably for the international market. Action hero movies are traditionally heavy of White Guys with abs. Here we also have Latino (Jay Hernandez as the fire throwing Diablo), Asian (Karen Fukuhara as Ninja sword wielding Katana) and even reptilian skinned Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje who comes up with a very curious accent).

Speaking of white guys with abs, Ben Affleck as Batman also gets thrown into this mix for some brief screen time. He’s the reason many of the Suicide Squad members get caught in the first place. Stick around for a little more of Ben in a credits clip.

This is a mash up of backstories, interspersed with cheesy special effects. The whirling plate of trash that the nefarious alien Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) twirls over the city looks suspiciously like other twirling trash black holes we’ve seen in Ghostbusters perhaps, or Independence Day. It seems to be the go-to apocalyptic effect for a lot of movies and just looked ordinary. And the Enchantress’ wiggle walk is weird and disturbing, but not in a good villainous way.

Is this worth your bucks? Suicide Squad had more laughs than the usual darkness that inhabits movies based on DC characters. As we already noted, David Ayer is clearly trying to please two masters with this movie and, in the process, loses the audience. There’s no real tension because, early on, it’s clear who has to survive, so they can appear in the sequel.

With competing Marvel and DC universes, the studios are counting on fan loyalty to propel their series. So if you like this genre by all means you should see this film to be informed about where the story picks up for the next installment. If you’re just looking for a smart script, great acting and extra special effects, you can take a pass. Suicide Squad is killer blockbuster we expected.