The embargo for Suicide Squad just lifted, and for those hoping that it would turn around the DCEU, those hopes are going to be dashed. The reviews are less-than-charitable to say the least. Here’s a collection [Update: Director David Ayer‘s Twitter comments on the backlash are also below]:
And while “Suicide Squad” isn’t as poorly stitched together as its nearly unintelligible forebear “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” it’s still a patchy, makeshift effort of mismatched tones, tacked on jokes and messy narrative. While a flippant sense of humor assists its entertainment factor, the second DCU film ain’t no “Deadpool” either.
Needless to say stylistic flourishes, like unstable villains, are bountiful in Suicide Squad. The fun is in letting yourself go along with every silly bit. Do you like montages and flashbacks? Writer-director David Ayer loves them. He cannot get enough of them. He leans on both far too heavily for far too long in a movie so stuffed to the rafters with colorful characters, there’s barely any room for a serviceable plot.
Just when you think the summer movie season can’t get any worse, along come the “Worst. Heroes. Ever.” And while the film’s official tagline is selling its stars a little bit short (surely last year’s incarnation of The Fantastic Four still holds that dubious distinction), the mundane, milquetoast, and often mind-bogglingly stupid “Suicide Squad” almost makes good on the threat of its marketing campaign.
SUICIDE SQUAD review coming: DC fans no longer have grounds to mock Marvel movies. Faceless hordes, sky portals, quips – it’s Marvel lite.
— devin faraci (@devincf) August 2, 2016
Unfortunately, Suicide Squad suffers from a lot of the same issues that have kneecapped many of this year’s other similarly sized blockbusters. The pacing is wildly uneven, as the film moves from a relatively zippy first act to a virtually nonexistent second act to an endless third act. Action is often prioritized at the expense of emotional beats or character moments, and too much of the dialogue feels like explanatory or expository. At one point in the climax, one character turns to another to explain the plot point we’ve been watching play out for the past 20 minutes. My audience laughed at how ridiculously clunky it felt.
But the evil is never properly defined and, worse, isn’t personified in a way to balance the firepower of the opposition. In a fuzzy and hokey manner that encourages immediate viewer check-out, unlimited malevolence is made to reside in an ancient witch goddess whose physical heart literally is held by Waller and whose horrific spirit insinuates itself into a modern archeologist (played by Cara Delevingne); the latter’s boyfriend is Kinnaman’s Col. Flag, the guy who just happens to be in charge of the criminal team. Why anyone thought this creaky narrative line was a good idea for a wannabe-edgy superhero action piece is unfathomable. Indeed, it brings any and all investment in what’s going on to a quite complete end.
Writer-director David Ayer (End of Watch) skillfully sets up the film, introducing each of the crazies with caffeinated comic-book energy. But their mission — to take down Cara Delevingne’s undersketched witch, Enchantress, and her giant golem-like brother — is a bit of a bust. The stakes should feel higher. As someone who isn’t fluent in Suicide Squad lore, I can’t imagine there wasn’t a better villain in its back catalog. Still, it’s nothing compared with how wasted Leto’s scene-stealing Joker is. With his toxic-green hair, shiny metal teeth, and demented rictus grin, he’s the most dangerous live wire in the film. But he’s stranded in the periphery. For DC, which blew it with Batman v Superman last spring, Suicide Squad is a small step forward. But it could have been a giant leap.
Suicide Squad is the most frustrating movie I’ve seen in 2016.
Blame it on Batman, but the DC universe has gotten awfully dark in recent years, especially compared with the candy-colored competition over at Marvel. Rather than bringing levity and irreverence to the increasingly unpleasant comic-book sphere, as its psychedelic acid-twisted marketing campaign suggests, “Suicide Squad” plunges audiences right back into the coal-black world of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” picking up after the Man of Steel’s demise to imagine a government so desperate that its only hope to fight the next “meta-human” threat is by assembling a team of the gnarliest super-villains around.
Suicide Squad is a weird movie, and not just because it’s about a motley crew of supervillains set in the DC universe. The movie itself is also a motley amalgamation—a strange blend of different tones, stories, and pacing all mashed into something that has cool individual elements, but never really comes together.
If you liked the scene in Batman v Superman where Bruce Wayne watched YouTube videos about the future members of the Justice League, you’ll love Suicide Squad.
Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas – Emiliano Zapata — David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) August 2, 2016
Translation: “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees”
Zapata quote is my way of saying I love the movie and believe in it. Made it for the fans. Best experience of my life. ❤️
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) August 2, 2016
I was super excited about Suicide Squad, but these reviews have seriously dampened my enthusiasm. I wish Warner Bros. had waited to lift the embargo until after tonight’s screening for non-LA/NY critics, but so it goes. But maybe I’ll be an outsider on this and end up liking it. Our own Steve Weintraub had praise for the film. I still have hope for the flick, and if I end up in the minority, so be it. Look for my review tomorrow.
Suicide Squad opens this Friday. For more of our Suicide Squad coverage, click on the links below:
- ‘Suicide Squad’ Members Strut Their Stuff in 8 New Clips
- ‘Suicide Squad': David Ayer Reveals Which Fan-Favorite Villian Was Almost on the Squad
- ‘Suicide Squad’: Over 20 New Images Prepare Us for Supervillain Shenanigans
- ‘Suicide Squad’: David Ayer Shoots Down Fan-Favorite Joker Theory