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The reviews for Suicide Squad are in — and they are undoubtedly discouraging for fans hoping the DC Extended Universe would finally have a film they could all rally behind.
Following the divisive Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the film from writer-director David Ayer centers on a team of villains who go on a top secret mission against a threat even more dangerous than they are. While the marketing has made it clear studio Warner Bros. hoped to tap into the success of Fox’s Deadpool, the bloody and irreverent R-rated hit that took the box office by storm in February, critics say Suicide Squad falls short.
“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,” writes The Hollywood Reporter chief film critic Todd McCarthy in his review.
McCarthy calls the film a “puzzlingly confused undertaking that never becomes as cool as it thinks it is,” and though he praises Will Smith (Deadshot), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) and Jared Leto (The Joker), he likens Suicide Squad to a dream team of athletes whose whole does not measure up to the individual talents of the players.
“Problematically, the snappy, quasi-pop-art feel effectively emphasized in the film’s first trailers is felt only in the early stretch; if Ayer had been able to sharpen and sustain something resembling a darkly subversive cartoon style — which is what’s suggested in the interludes centering on Harley Quinn — he might have been on to something,” McCarthy writes. “But he’s a grim realist at heart, and it’s a sensibility that doesn’t jibe with this sort of material, which, at this stage of the superhero cycle, benefits from being approached with irreverence (as evidenced by the more entertaining Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool).”
Read on to see what other top critics are saying about Suicide Squad:
Chicago Sun-Times‘ Richard Roeper writes of the much-hyped Joker, “After months of online hype that threatened to bring the internet to its knees, Jared Leto’s Joker (while somewhat creepy and menacing) doesn’t come close to scraping the surface of the memorably spine-chilling work done by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.”
USA Today‘s Brian Truitt has a more positive take, writing, “Like The Dirty Dozen for the Hot Topic generation, the team gets in-your-face introductions and things just grow more mental from there. But compared to its ilk, Suicide Squad is an excellently quirky, proudly raised middle finger to the staid superhero-movie establishment.”
Time‘s Stephanie Zacharek writes, “Suicide Squad moves fast, so fast that the characters barely have time to hate one another, let alone bond. But instead of making the picture more exciting, the cluttery blur of the editing flattens it out — it’s like watching helicopter blades whir for two hours.”
The Daily Beast‘s Jen Yamato writes, “Clearly it’s not the less-than-memorable villains or the Dirty Dozen-esque origin story that gets Ayer’s juices flowing, but pet characters like Harley Quinn, the film’s true raison d’etre. In a movie that feels disproportionately anemic and disjointed at times, Harley Quinn is the beating, bananas heart of the film. Beneath an assortment of face tattoos, caked-on clown makeup and very sparse costuming, she’s always off-kilter and delightfully herself — a spunky supervillain who lacks impulse control and morals but keeps the makeshift squad together when self-interest and friction threaten to tear them apart.”
BuzzFeed‘s Alison Willmore questions if Ayer was the right person to direct a film with so many female characters, given his history with gritty, male-centered dramas: “The first half of Suicide Squad has very noticeably been set almost wall-to-wall with music, from “Sympathy for the Devil” to “Seven Nation Army” to “Spirit in the Sky,” in an overt attempt to infuse the footage with borrowed levity from familiar tunes. But Ayer eventually has to reach for clumsily sketched-out angst (like Deadshot staring morosely at the child mannequin in a department store window) in an attempt to humanize his very crowded field of characters — and that angst depends on using women as accessories to depict male pain.”
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