The overall effect is Fight Club meets The Avengers

The buzz surrounding Suicide Squad has rivaled Deadpool, which says a lot about the demand for new characters and films that refresh and reinvent the ubiquitous comic book movie.

David Ayer’s anti-hero actioner isn’t as radical a detour as Deadpool, but its colourful rogues’ gallery and blending of comic book elements with gritty urban action delivers a far more entertaining spectacle than dour DC predecessorBatman v Superman.

With a propulsive and well-curated soundtrack, lurid production design, and a streak of insanity that matches its characters, the overall effect is Fight Club meets The Avengers.

The film kicks off by introducing each member of the Squad being assembled by ruthless government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who believes that the worst criminals are the best line of defence against a meta-human menace in a post-Superman world.

Chief among them are Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), an Arkham Asylum doctor corrupted by the institution’s most notorious inmate, the Joker (Jared Leto); Deadshot (Will Smith), a mercenary assassin and devoted father; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a fearsomely tattooed gang member with pyrokinetic abilities; reptilian cave dweller Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and bogan Aussie thief Boomerang (Jai Courtney).

Leading the Squad is Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a soldier with his own demons – most literally his girlfriend (Cara Delevingne), who’s possessed by the soul of the Enchantress, a malefic witch who has unleashed an arcane force upon the city.

The movie’s major flaw involves the motivation of this big bad, which remains as nebulous as the vortex it’s creating. Moreover, there’s no real sense of urgency to defeat it – the Squad can take time out for a drink and bonding session along the way.

Suicide Squad is primarily concerned with, well, the Suicide Squad and what makes them tick. The focus is largely Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who instantly became the movie’s pin-up girl; needless to say, she pretty much owns the film. But surprisingly, so does Will Smith, in one of his least grating performances in years. Deadshot is the most human of the bunch, and Jay Hernandez’s firestarter also has a story to tell. Killer Croc and Boomerang are more roughly sketched, however, and there to make up the numbers.

The big question, though, is how does Jared Leto fare as Gotham’s iconic villain? Despite being consigned to a guest appearance, he’s easily the most insane screen Joker to date – a portrayal that’s closer to the comic book incarnation than any of his predecessors. The film needs more of him, and his backstory with Harley Quinn.

In the rapidly expanding DC universe, that’s the stuff for a whole other movie, which we’ll inevitably get to see in due course. In the meantime, let Suicide Squad rock your world.

In cinemas: August 4, 2016
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto
Directed by: David Ayer