But as the first reviews for the “Batman v Superman” follow-up have begun to roll in, it’s become clear that the movie’s marketing machine has disguised what one critic called “a dizzying, deranged hot mess.” Reviews so scathing, mind you, that “Suicide Squad” die-hards have been fooled into thinking a petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes is something that actually exists.
Read a collection of some of the most brutal below:
“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.
Harley Quinn is an embodiment of all the conflicting things this frankly disastrous new movie, choppily written and directed [by] David Ayer, is attempting to do. She’s meant to be fun in her I’m so cra-azy way, but she’s also a woman in an abusive relationship the movie has no idea how to handle. She’s supposed to be strong, and in the literal sense, she does bash things with a baseball bat. But she’s also a psychological prisoner who has surrendered her sense of self. She’s a goth icon who talks like a 1930s gangster moll and who owns a gun reading ‘love’ and ‘hate’ on the barrel, but in her deepest heart, all she wants is to be a housewife in curlers, looking after the kids while her green-haired hubby heads off to work. She’s anarchic, but not really, and a good time, but not really, and she’s fucked up, but not really — or at least, not really in a way the movie’s ready to take time to explore. Sure, Harley is a tricky character, but she’s been shaped into an intensely sexualized mascot for a film that yearns for edginess, but can’t get over the rounded curves of its female lead.
A series of tactical skirmishes with faceless minions — semi-zombies that can be slaughtered en masse, without a second thought — leads to a big final showdown. Spoiler alert: It’s essentially the final showdown from ‘Ghostbusters’ and at least a half-dozen other recent blockbusters, with a few differences of what I guess we should call nuance. You can safely duck out of the theater and spend a good 20 minutes on the claw machine or Instagram, slipping back in to catch the final song and the sequel-teasing extra scene during the end credits.
How early will the fanboys who flock to see “Suicide Squad” — smug in the knowledge that they’ve won the day, that Hollywood is now desperate to cater to their tastes above all others’ — admit that they’re watching the year’s most muddled piece of storytelling? Will they say, “Enough!”? Or will they vent over the damage to their favorite characters and promptly move on to debating who should direct the next stupid, overblown “Suicide Squad” movie?
After one of the crummiest summer movie seasons in recent memory, asking one film to redeem four months of tepid blockbusters might have been a suicide mission in and of itself. But “Suicide Squad” doesn’t even come close. 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. The movie opens with a shot of the logo for Belle Reve Prison, which serves as the Suicide Squad’s home base; the facility’s slogan is “’Til Death Do Us Part.” The direness of this movie, along with the staggering number of films yet to come in the DC cinematic universe, makes these words feel like the ultimate threat.
If you know someone you really can’t stand — not someone you dislike, not someone who rubs you the wrong way, but someone you really loathe and detest — send that person a ticket for “Suicide Squad.” It’s the kind of torment you can wish on your worst enemy without feeling too guilty, not something to inflict permanent damage, just two hours of soul-sickening confusion and sensory torment.
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. It serves no one well, least of all its audience ... Now and then there’s a dash of color, especially when Leto’s Joker appears, with his silvery capped teeth and Day-Glo hair. Leto seems to be channeling, consciously or otherwise, Richard Widmark in the 1947 noir “Kiss of Death”—that’s the one where Widmark’s truly creepy-evil character pushes an old lady in a wheelchair down the stairs. But Leto is so textbook twitchy that he barely comes off as menacing. And his scenes with Robbie have no spark, no lunatic ardor. If you can’t strike a spark with Robbie, something’s terribly wrong.
Who stole the soul of “Suicide Squad”? I’d say it’s Ayer’s willingness to go all limp-dick and compromise his hardcore action bona fides for a PG-13 crowdpleaser that would rather ingratiate than cut deep, or even cut at all. My heart sank during the film’s big battle between the Squad and zombie soldiers. You heard me: zombies! The walking dead aren’t the only 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.
Everyone should just go watch something from the Criterion Collection, OK?