DC Comics attempts to expand its universe with the highly anticipated superhero thriller, “Suicide Squad.” While involving, it never quite lives up to its promise. Viola Davis plays a U.S. intelligence big wig who assembles a team of dangerous incarcerated super villains. Her aim is to train them as a military team to use as a last ditch option just in case other super villains invade the Earth. Naturally, the plan backfires and the team members have to clean up Viola’s mess.

The terrific, diverse cast includes Will Smith as the assassin Deadshot, Jared Leto as The Joker, Jay Hernandez as firestarter El Diablo, Karen Fukuhara as super samauri Katana and Margot Robbie as wacko Harley Quinn. I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing Robbie in a stand-alone Harely Quinn movie.

Writer/director David Ayer who helmed the action features “End of Watch” and “Fury,” has amped up the violence, so it’s surprising that this exercise in mayhem got away with a PG-13 rating when it obviously deserves an “R.” While it’s just as dark as “Batman V Superman,” Ayer has injected “Suicide Squad” with some shots of welcome humor to lighten the bleak atmosphere.

This DC effort hasn’t quite captured the sense of fun that has been the hallmark of the Marvel entries. “Suicide Squad” might not be a killer entertainment, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Also opening this week, Kevin Spacey plays a neglectful zillionaire who gets trapped in the body of a kitty cat in the family fantasy, “Nine Lives.” Barry Sonnenfeld of “Men in Black” fame directed it. “The Innocents” is WWII era drama from France about a convent whose nuns were impregnated by members of the Red Army. “The Mind’s Eye” is a horror thriller about a mad doctor who imprisons two people with psychokinetic powers in an attempt to steal their gifts for his own nefarious use.

ON Freeze Frame | August 5, 2016 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"

FREEZE FRAME: “Suicide Squad”

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DC Comics attempts to expand its universe with the highly anticipated superhero thriller, “Suicide Squad.” While involving, it never quite lives up to its promise. Viola Davis plays a U.S. intelligence big wig who assembles a team of dangerous incarcerated super villains. Her aim is to train them as a military team to use as a last ditch option just in case other super villains invade the Earth. Naturally, the plan backfires and the team members have to clean up Viola’s mess.

The terrific, diverse cast includes Will Smith as the assassin Deadshot, Jared Leto as The Joker, Jay Hernandez as firestarter El Diablo, Karen Fukuhara as super samauri Katana and Margot Robbie as wacko Harley Quinn. I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing Robbie in a stand-alone Harely Quinn movie.

Writer/director David Ayer who helmed the action features “End of Watch” and “Fury,” has amped up the violence, so it’s surprising that this exercise in mayhem got away with a PG-13 rating when it obviously deserves an “R.” While it’s just as dark as “Batman V Superman,” Ayer has injected “Suicide Squad” with some shots of welcome humor to lighten the bleak atmosphere.

This DC effort hasn’t quite captured the sense of fun that has been the hallmark of the Marvel entries. “Suicide Squad” might not be a killer entertainment, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Also opening this week, Kevin Spacey plays a neglectful zillionaire who gets trapped in the body of a kitty cat in the family fantasy, “Nine Lives.” Barry Sonnenfeld of “Men in Black” fame directed it. “The Innocents” is WWII era drama from France about a convent whose nuns were impregnated by members of the Red Army. “The Mind’s Eye” is a horror thriller about a mad doctor who imprisons two people with psychokinetic powers in an attempt to steal their gifts for his own nefarious use.

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