‘What a ride!’ exclaims Margot Robbie’s psychopathic kook Harley Quinn, prancing away from a helicopter crash during a fiery moment in this blast of a fantasy.

Her firecracker character is the best thing about the film by far, but even when she isn’t hogging the limelight, gleefully wielding a baseball bat as a weapon or dropping tart one-liners with a deranged leer, this bad-guys-on-a-mission movie works as a darkly comic subversion of more earnest superhero movies.

Quinn is a member of the Suicide Squad, a group of incarcerated villains sprung from custody by US intelligence to battle even worse foes.

Their mission quickly boils down to a relatively routine monster-battling slugfest, but the squad – including Will Smith’s unstoppable assassin Deadshot and Jai Courtney’s Aussie thief Captain Boomerang – are quirky enough to keep us engaged and there are frequent interludes in the action for the gang to trade quips and put-downs.

As for the story’s villains, Cara Delevingne’s possessed Enchantress is a tad underwhelming, but Jared Leto manages to put his own indelible stamp on The Joker.