You know the army of faceless goons that so many superhero movies offer up? The ones that are either terrifyingly badass (bullets don’t work!) or goofily lame (but baseball bats do!), depending on the needs of the moment? Well, say this for writer-director David Ayer: in his superhero movie, those faceless goons are literally faceless. So that’s something. And Jared Leto’s Joker looks right for the times. Otherwise, this story of bad guys being forced to fight other bad guys by a very bad guy who is also a woman (Viola Davis, apparently sedated) and a government agent is a godawful mess. Begin at the beginning, as Davis drones her way through about four movies’ worth of backstory exposition — gotta introduce/explain our villainous heroes — in between bites of steak. Her big idea: the future of warfare is metahumans, and we need weapons we can control. So she sticks bombs in the necks of some nasties (most of whom don’t seem terribly meta) and sends ‘em on a mission: not to take out the witch who’s getting ready to wipe out humanity, but to rescue a nearby asset. Incoherence ensues, rife with cliché, replete with boring battles, stuffed with absurdities, overlaid with pointless rock riffs, drizzled in sentiment, and utterly lacking in meaningful characterization. (Are these bad guys bad or not? Will Smith’s hyper-accurate hit-man scoffs at the idea of love, but will do apparently anything for his daughter.) By the end, it’s almost comedy: a witch doing a twitchy robot dance as she casts her apocalyptic spell, then deciding the best way to manifest her awesome supernatural power is to get into a fistfight. If it were a little better, it would demand a proper autopsy to figure out what the hell happened. (Ayer made Fury just two years ago!). As it is, it just isn’t worth it. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
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