'Suicide Squad' Early Buzz: A Messy Action Flick That Misses The Mark Despite An Outstanding Cast

With the release of Suicide Squad just a few days away, the first reviews of the movie have been unleashed on the web. Many who were disappointed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have been hoping that Suicide Squad would help get the DC Comics universe back on the right track, injecting some much needed fun and energy into the comic book work. Meanwhile, those who enjoyed Zack Snyder's superhero face-off were excited at the prospect of seeing some of DC's most iconic villains grace the big screen together. So how does Suicide Squad fare?

Most of the Suicide Squad reviews have some pretty unkind things to say, with many writing that it has an illogical story, a ridiculous and awful villain, and some pretty sloppy editing. Sadly, it doesn't sound like this will save the DC Comics universe for those who were already disappointed in it. But there may be hope for those who found themselves disagreeing with critics about Batman v Superman, because even the negative reviews add that there's some fun to be had among the messiness and the cast makes it better than it otherwise could have been.

Check out our round-up of Suicide Squad reviews and reactions after the jump for more.

First up, here's some more brief reactions from Twitter:

Suicide Squad

Now let's dig into the more complete thoughts on the film arriving in full reviews for the movie. Our own Angie Han wrote in her spoiler-free review, which you can read in full here, that there's fun to be had, but there are a lot of problems too:

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. 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.

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.

Chris Nashawaty at Entertainment Weekly writes:

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

Eric Eisenberg at CinemaBlend was also disappointed by the movie despite having some fun:

It was hoped that Suicide Squad could be a major step forward for the DC Extended Universe, but it's not exactly that — with the film frustratingly and consistently stepping on its own toes. It lacks the convolution problems of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but is also so simple that it doesn't carry any weight. 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). And while Ayer's vision for these characters is exciting, you're still left wanting more out of the ensemble as a whole within the story being told. It's definitely an improvement over the last chapter of the DCEU, but we've still come to expect more from the comic book movie genre.

Erik Davis at Movies.com found good and bad in the movie, but thinks it sets up a promising future:

Suicide Squad is far from a perfect movie, and it's stuffed with a lot of weird decisions, but similar to Batman v Superman you're left wanting more of this ensemble because the chemistry is on point. And if they ever put Deadshot in a Batman movie as the villain, it's going to create a fascinating dynamic we've never seen in a superhero movie before, in that it'll include a hero and villain we're mutually invested in. That's the kind of stuff that excites me about Suicide Squad. Storytelling issues aside, this is a movie that changes the game in all the best ways.

Devin Faraci at Birth.Death.Movies brings this criticism to the table:

Suicide Squad is a mess. It's been a long time since I've seen a studio film so clearly and clumsily manhandled with reshoots and rejiggering; the whole first act plays like an extended montage, an endless "Previously on" segment set to a staggering series of on-the-nose needledrops (Sympathy for the Devil plays when master manipulator Amanda Waller is introduced), and the third act is full of emotional beats and character turns that are not set up and as such can't land their payoffs. But, swimming through all that, pushing against the current of a botched movie, are four lead performances that salvage the whole thing.

Peter Debruge over at Variety writes:

Whereas Batman v Superman"managed to raise certain pseudo-provocative questions about how real people might react to being protected by vigilante "meta-humans," "Suicide Squad" deals with a 100% unreasonable solution to future threats. Like "Deadpool" earlier this year, it's entertaining insofar as it allows the characters to crack wise and act out, though they can only go so far within the confines of MPAA guidelines and the rigid DC mythology. On paper, this could have been the antidote to an increasingly codified strain of comic-book movies, but in the end, it's just another high-attitude version of the same.

Brian Truitt over at USA Today has one of the most positive reactions to the movie:

There's both undeniable sincerity and an over-the-top punk rock vibe to writer/director David Ayer's completely bonkers ode to supervillains (***½ out of four) 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.

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.

Meanwhile, David Ehrlich unleashed some serious shade in his review over at IndieWire:

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.

Of course, the advertising copy isn't referring to the quality of the film's super-powered task force so much as it is to their moral fiber, but this motley crew of demented rejects  — a real who's who of who gives a shit — are bad in every sense of the word except for the one that might threaten to make them interesting.


Todd McCarthy over at The Hollywood Reporter doesn't have many nice things to say either:

A puzzlingly confused undertaking that never becomes as cool as it thinks it is, Suicide Squad assembles an all-star team of supervillains and then doesn't know what to do with them.

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.

The alluring cast and great expectations roused by some deceptively fun trailers should spark major box office at the outset. But a sense of disappointment will soon enshroud Suicide Squad, as it did the recent Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Drew McWeeny over at HitFix acknowledges the film has problems, but still enjoyed most of it:

When Suicide Squad gets it right, I like it a lot, and it gets it right often enough that I like a lot of it. It won't deliver the decisive knockout blow that ends the DC/Marvel rivalry that the most impassioned fans seem to want, but nothing will. What it does is make a case for how much fun this universe can be when the characters are embraced fully and when a filmmaker seems excited by the opportunities afforded by those characters. Lots of superhero films struggle to make us like their heroes even half as much as we end up liking the villains here, and that alone is a pretty canny trick, one that I suspect audiences will enjoy quite a bit.

Jen Yamato from The Daily Beast praises style, but still finds flaws:

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? 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.

Instead, he moves his Squad inch by inch along a threadbare story just to have somewhere to go and things to blow up, trots them through a war-torn city and into random buildings to get to the Big Bad: Enchantress, who's hatched her own sinister plot from within June Moone's body to bring her own all-powerful brother back to life with magic and rule the world.

Rodrigo Perez at The Playlist adds:

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 awkward, 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.

Suicide Squad Reactions

Joshua Yehl from IGN added another unimpressed review:

After seeing the trailer showing DC's most eclectic superbad team throwing out zingy one-liners and doing wild stunts to the tune of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," you'd expect Suicide Squad to be a fun, subversive romp brought to life with neon-laced style. And it certainly is... for the first act of the movie. From there, it loses its zany charm and becomes something familiar, unexciting, and, worst of all, predictable. There are some enjoyable elements, namely certain standout performances from the star-studded cast, but that's not quite enough to prop up the uninspired plot.

Richard Lawson rips the movie a new one over at Vanity Fair:

Suicide Squad is 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. 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. But, perhaps worst of all, Suicide Squad is ultimately too shoddy and forgettable to even register as revolting. At least revolting would have been something.

Our friend Germain Lussier at io9 found the movie to be quite a mess:

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.

Mike Ryan at Uproxx was just frustrated by how the great cast is wasted:

What's ultimately frustrating about Suicide Squad is that the cast is terrific. Will Smith is dynamite and feels a lot like the old Will Smith we used to love watching in movies. Again, Margot Robbie is having the time of her life. And here's a movie that gave Jai Courtney something to do other than be "movie star prototype." (I've always felt Jai Courtney gets a bad rap. I think the problem is no one has ever known what to do with him. Here, he's really good as Captain Boomerang.)

This is a cast that seems to work well together. That's not easy to do! Couple that with interesting characters and a concept of a group of "bad guy" teaming up to fight a worse "bad guy," and there's really no reason for this not to work. But the story is bad. It's confusing, poorly edited and just way too over the top and contrived. My goodness, Suicide Squad could have benefited from just a simple, straightforward story. All the ingredients are there, yet our meal is burnt.

And Matt Singer at ScreenCrush delivers another blow:

So much time is spent explaining each Suicide Squad character's backstory that there's almost no room for an actual story amidst the subsequent onslaught of wisecracks and bloodless, PG-13 action. But few of the jokes land and the Squad's main opponents are waves of literally faceless enemies with no goals or motivation. And even as Suicide Squad ramps up to its big second act, it keeps shoving more characters onto the team, including one member who shows up randomly halfway through the movie just so they can be killed a couple minutes later.

On paper, Ayer makes a lot of sense with this material. As the director of movies like SabotageFury, and the underrated End of Watch, he knows a thing or two about compelling antiheroes and he has a knack for exploring the interpersonal dynamics in military and police units. Beyond the film's fetishization of gun violence, though, Suicide Squad bears little of Ayer's authorial stamp. The characters themselves have some personality (particularly Robbie's spunky Harley Quinn), but the rest of the movie has almost none.


While there's a lot of negativity in these reviews, it should be noted that cast members Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis and Jai Courtney get plenty of praise for their turns as Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller and Boomerang. But the consensus is that the movie doesn't utilize them to their maximum potential because of the crowded roster of characters. Similarly, for all the hype and excitement surrounding Jared Leto's take on the Joker, it doesn't sound like he's in the movie for more than 10 or 15 minutes.

At the very least, even if the story turns out to be as poor as the reviews are indicating, maybe it will do some good by introducing some of these characters to the DC Comics universe so they can be better utilized in other movies down the road. Of course, if DC Comics movies keep stumbling like this, they might find less of an audience as time goes on. At the very least, curiosity will ensure that this will be a box office hit this weekend, but we'll have to wait and see what general audiences think before we get a better idea of how the continued expansion of the DC Comics cinematic universe is received.

Suicide Squad arrives on August 5 this week. Are you concerned by these reviews at all?