Suicide Squad review roundup.

Here’s What Critics Have to Say About Suicide Squad

Here’s What Critics Have to Say About Suicide Squad

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Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 2 2016 1:58 PM

Here’s What Critics Have to Say About Suicide Squad

Margot Robbie
At least Margot Robbie is supposed to be good!

Still from the trailer

Ever since Batman v Superman left fans scratching their heads, critics shaking them, and Ben Affleck staring mournfully into the distance to the tune of “The Sound of Silence,” all eyes have turned to Suicide Squad. Though BvS still made almost a billion dollars worldwide, DC Entertainment has apparently grown concerned that fans would tire of its movies’ relentlessly dour tone, and rumors swirled that Suicide Squad had gone into reshoots so it wouldn’t be so serious.

Is DC’s cinematic universe staring down its own doomsday, or did writer-director David Ayer succeed in making a movie that would put a smile on that face? We’ve rounded up the major themes from the first reviews below.

The movie is a mess.

... A Dizzying, Deranged Hot Mess
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—Jen Yamato, the Daily Beast

—Germain Lussier, io9

From the first scene to the last, it’s an absolute mess, one whose harried pacing, jumbled narrative, and blaring soundtrack of radio hits suggests a desperate post-production attempt to reconfigure what Ayer got on set into something palatable and poppy.
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—Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

It’s especially meaningless in the film writer-director David Ayer has made, which desperately scrambles for a sense of style—any style will do!—and confuses itself into a muddy and smothering soup of wasted possibility.

—Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

That’s “fun” without being fun.

It has a sense of humor and fun, bolstered by a bombastic and multi-textured soundtrack, but its action is also repetitive and disengaging (hurt by the villain’s plot lacking clarity and specificity).
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—Eric Eisenberg, Cinemablend

Starts off flavourful, turns rather bland. This Injustice League jaunt proves that DC is still a long way behind Marvel for on-screen action.

—Jamie Graham, Total Film

Margot Robbie is the standout.

Thanks in part to Robbie’s memorable performance, [Harley]’s flighty, she’s unpredictable and when she’s having fun, so is the audience. She adds to every scene she’s in, and when she’s on screen, Suicide Squad is at its best.
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—Germain Lussier, io9

Robbie is radioactively watchable, swinging her baseball bat this way and that, selling this skeezy male-fantasy nutjob with wide-eyed enthusiasm.

—Michael Phillips, the Chicago Tribune

There’s already talk of a Harley solo spin-off, which is exciting not just as a vehicle for Robbie but also for the idea of a movie that doesn’t have more people than it knows how to handle.
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—Alonso Duralde, the Wrap

Harley Quinn’s 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.

—Stephanie Zacharek, Time

Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is the one that movie-goers will be talking about most coming out of the film, the Australian star breathing special life into the manic/weird/cute psychopath.
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—Eric Eisenberg, Cinemablend

Jared Leto’s Joker is creepy but completely extraneous to the plot.

Leto is part gangster and part clown, but he’s not really part of this movie. Ayer never finds anything for the character to do, and so Leto’s role is reduced to a glorified cameo, a prelude to a more significant performance in a future installment.

—David Ehrlich, Indiewire

... the Joker just sort of wanders in and out.

—Robbie Collin, the Telegraph

There’s little reason for the Joker to exist in the story other than as a bothersome complication to the largely-empty goals of the titular team.

—Rodrigo Perez, the Playlist

[Ayer] and Leto manage to invent a version of the Joker every bit as unsettling as the late Heath Ledger’s immortal incarnation, turning the iconic Batman rival into a ruthless seduce r… but the character barely has anything to do.

—Peter Debruge, Variety

After all that, Leto’s Joker is barely in the damn movie, and when he is, he’s entirely underwhelming.

—Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

It’s overstuffed with pointless cameos.

False starts, oddly placed flashbacks, clunky cameos (Ben Affleck’s Batman, Ezra Miller’s Flash) and a muddled chronology detract from the grungy, kooky DayGlo-splashed fun …

—Dan Jolin, Empire

Suicide Squad wastes time connecting its story to the larger DC cinematic universe, referencing events from Batman v Superman and alluding to next year’s Justice League ...

—Tim Grierson, Screen International

“Suicide Squad” is saddled with a bigger cast of characters than “Around the World in 80 Days.”

—Michael Phillips, the Chicago Tribune

There’s even less of Ben Affleck, who looks like he showed up only because someone at Warners threw up the Bat-Contractual Obligation Signal.

—Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

The soundtrack is Guardians of the Galaxy–esque—but way too literal.

From the Animals and Kanye West, to Eminem and the White Stripes, these songs are certainly nice to hear, but in almost every single case they’ve obviously been picked for very literal reasons. For example “Seven Nation Army” is played when the team comes together as an army. “Come Baby Come” by K7 is played almost solely so the line “Swing batter batter batter batter swing” can play in a key moment.

—Germain Lussier, io9

What you will get is a parade of the most on-the-nose music cues since “Forrest Gump.” When we first see Belle Reve, the Louisiana maximum-security prison where most of the Squad is incarcerated, the soundtrack plays “House of the Rising Sun.” For the first shot of Harley Quinn, it’s “You Don’t Own Me.” When the villains get to suit up and grab their weapons, it’s the “Guess who’s back” portion of Eminem‘s “Without Me.” And so on.

—Alonso Duralde, the Wrap

Forrest Wickman is Slate’s culture editor.

David Canfield is a writer for Entertainment Weekly. Follow him on Twitter.