Movie reviews: What critics are saying about 'Suicide Squad'

MANILA, Philippines – Suicide Squad has assembled the worst heroes ever, making the movie pack a lot of star power with the A-list and Oscar awardees in the cast. 

Like most comic book movies, the hype surrounding the film was on fever pitch – it really seemed to be not your typical DC Comics film. Jared Leto as the Joker, in particular, was said to have invested a lot of himself in his interpretation of the iconic supervillain – and everyone was excited.

The trailers were filled with a lot of sass from Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Katana (Karen Fukuhara), Slipknot (Adam Beach), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) – set to some badass music, too.

Then, the critics saw it – and some of them ravaged any hope that this movie is as good as it had sounded on paper or with the marketing machine. "Dead on arrival," "mind-bogglingly stupid," "just bad" – yikes!  Heck, there's even a petition from fans to shut down review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes over the perceived targeted vitriol against DC properties.

Does the Suicide Squad movie have any redeeming quality? Is it still worth it to troop to the cinemas in spite of the bad reviews? It's up to you to decide – but these critics might help:

 

"Writer-director David Ayer (End of Watch) skillfully sets up the film, introducing each of the crazies with caffeinated comic-book energy," wrote Chris Nashawaty for Entertainment Weekly.

But for him, Suicide Squad didn't risk a lot: "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."

What about Jared Leto's Joker? "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."

For The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, Suicide Squad is "a clotted and delirious film, with flashes of preposterous, operatic silliness. But it doesn’t have much room to breathe; there are some dull bits, and Leto’s Joker suffers in comparison with the late Heath Ledger. […] There were some funny touches, mainly from Harley, and from Ike Barinholtz’s corrupt prison guard Griggs."

However, for Bradshaw, it lacked fun: "Suicide Squad promises madness, and a dense downpour of madness is what it delivers. I could have done with more fun and more lightness of touch."

 

The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy also saw promise – but like several other critics, he felt that the movie didn't deliver. 

"Part smart-ass genre sendup, part grimy noir that wants to be as dirty as Deadpool but remains constrained by its PG-13 rating, and part short-falling attempt by Warner Bros. to get a big-budget DC Comics mashup right, the film starts with promise but disengages as it loses its creative bearings," he wrote.

"The action of the film’s middle and latter stages is largely set in a gloomy murk that recalls far too many previous dour sci-fi/fantasy films, and by that point, vestiges of the opening stretch’s humor and snap long have fallen by the wayside."

For McCarthy, this DC film turned out to be dull: "Suicide Squad may not quite commit harakiri, but it certainly feels like it’s taken far too many sleeping pills."

Variety's Peter Debruge saw the film's lack of levity as a con. He wrote, "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."

 

"Who stole the soul of Suicide Squad?" asked Rolling Stone's Peter Travers – a question to which he offers his own answer: I'd say it's Ayer's willingness to go all limp-d*ck and compromise his hardcore action bona fides for a PG-13 crowdpleaser that would rather ingratiate than cut deep, or even cut at all. 

He cited scenes and elements which are "clichés that eat away at the potential in this material."

"Superfreaks become supersweeties and Suicide Squad: Dawn of Dullness (my subtitle) does the impossible. Forget Batman v Superman — at least it tried. This botch job makes Fantastic Four look good."

"Just when you think the summer movie season can’t get any worse, along come the 'Worst. Heroes. Ever,'" wrote David Ehrlich for IndieWire. 

"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.

"Intended as an antidote to the rest of the DC Cinematic Universe (in that it’s aggressively flippant instead of gravely serious, and merely bad instead of soul-crushingly awful), Suicide Squad promises to flip the script on superhero movies by forcing the audience to root for the bad guys.

"But this is pretty much the only unique and interesting thing about the movie for Ehrlich: "Alas, that wild and crazy idea is the only thing that separates this dank sewer of messy actions beats and misplaced machismo from any of the other films that have come to define its genre."

 

Richard Lawson, writing for Vanity Fair, called out the movieas "bad. Not fun bad. Not redeemable bad. Not the kind of bad that is the unfortunate result of artists honorably striving for something ambitious and falling short. Suicide Squad is just bad," he wrote.

"It’s ugly and boring, a toxic combination that means the film’s highly fetishized violence doesn’t even have the exciting tingle of the wicked or the taboo. (Oh, how the movie wants to be both of those things.) It’s simply a dull chore steeped in flaccid machismo, a shapeless, poorly edited trudge that adds some mildly appalling sexism and even a soupçon of racism to its abundant, hideously timed gun worship."

Lawson puts his nail in the coffin, describing the film as "ultimately too shoddy and forgettable to even register as revolting. At least revolting would have been something."

However, he still thought that a "noble three" – Will Smith's Deadshot, Viola Davis's Amanda Waller, and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn – gave that "tiny bit of light that dimly bathes those of us in the audience."

Time's Stephanie Zacharek didn't mince her words: "Loaded with jokes but devoid of wit, Suicide Squad is dead on arrival."

She later added: "All of Suicide Squad is TMI [too much information], a bunch of character stuff and plot stuff chopped and diced and tossed up on the screen with no regard for plot or logic or mood, as if we’re just not supposed to care about those things anymore."

Are there any redeeeming qualities? For Zacharek, it's Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, whose "entrance is the best moment in Suicide Squad. After that, you can leave."

"Robbie is a criminally appealing actress, likable in just about every way, but that intro aside, Suicide Squad doesn’t serve her well. It serves no one well, least of all its audience."

 

Contrary to what Rolling Stone said above, for USA Today's Brian Truitt, "the fantastic felons of Suicide Squad have got soul and they’re superbad."

"There’s both undeniable sincerity and an over-the-top punk rock vibe to writer/director David Ayer’s completely bonkers ode to supervillains tapped to contribute to the greater good. It helps flesh out the comic-book world of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, plus makes a bunch of obscure outsiders just as engaging and fun to watch as that well-known Dark Knight."

"If you’re tired of the supreme self-seriousness of the two DC superhero films so far, the good news is that Suicide Squad is definitely having more fun," wrote Angie Han for SlashFilm. 

"David Ayer is armed with an obvious but irresistible soundtrack that must have cost Warner Bros. a fortune to put together (yes, “Sympathy for the Devil” is in here, and so is “Bohemian Rhapsody”). The characters come prepared with cheeky, off-color jokes — the kind you’d never catch grim Batman or earnest Superman making."

"And where Zack Snyder’s DC films have worked hard to maintain a sense of “groundedness” despite the fact that Superman is an actual alien, Suicide Squad feels just fine about diving into the stranger corners of the comic book universe. (It’s impossible to avoid going there when one of the characters is an honest-to-God witch, anyway.) Suicide Squad is not especially deep, and doesn’t try to be. It’s just here to have a good time. And it succeeds more often than not."

Good, bad, "so-so" reviews – will you still be heading to the cinemas to catch Suicide Squad? Let us know in the comments! – Rappler.com