12:25 pm EDT, August 2, 2016

First ‘Suicide Squad’ reviews arrive, and they’re not good

The Suicide Squad review embargo lifted on Tuesday morning, offering our first taste of how good (or bad) the new movie is.

Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood and Cara Delevingne, Suicide Squad follows a bunch of villains who are tasked with being the good guys to fight the other bad guys.

There’s been a lot of anticipation surrounding the movie as it looked like WB/DC had finally broken their superhero dry spell. Unfortunately, the reviews of Suicide Squad are largely negative.

Screencrush notes the lack of Joker, who’s been a main selling point:

Those hoping to see lots of Jared Leto’s much-hyped Joker, who’s second-billed in the movie’s advertising below Will Smith, should adjust their expectations accordingly: His grill and tattoos appear mostly in flashbacks, and then only in a pointless subplot that could have been removed from the movie with zero consequence to the primary story. (For all his insane preparation, Leto’s Joker is basically just a 1930s gangster with green hair and bad tats; he never approaches the complexities of the men played by Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger.) 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.

The Hollywood Reporter:

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.

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Unfortunately, the result resembles a sports dream team whose combined efforts don’t nearly measure up to the talents of its individual players. The introduction of the dramatis personae in the extended prologue or first act, whichever you choose to call it, remains by far the film’s highlight, due to the promise it holds out: Will Smith as the ultimate American sniper Deadshot? Absolutely, and this has got to be a better bet for him than that Independence Day sequel he didn’t do. Margot Robbie as Joker’s crazed girlfriend Harley Quinn? Bring her on. Jay Hernandez as pyromaniac Diablo? Sure. Viola Davis as the government hard-ass who assembles the team? About time she got a plum role in a franchise. Jared Leto as Joker? Yeah, he’ll deliver a few new twists.

SUICIDE SQUAD

EW, who gave it a B-, liked it but didn’t love it:

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.

Coming Soon, who separated their review by “good” and “bad,” raves in this section about the cast:

While Leto, Robbie, and Smith are the standouts, the rest of the cast is excellent as well. Viola Davis is easily overlooked amid the more colorful cast of villains as Amanda Waller, yet she may be one of the most dangerous of the lot. You completely believe that she would firmly hold their leash and keep them under her control. Jay Hernandez also has surprising depth as Diablo. And when a secret of his is revealed late in the film, it’s a surprising revelation about his character that further expands the DC Universe. Ike Barinholtz as the prison guard Griggs is also hilarious and helps set the tone early in the movie. He helps introduce the audience to the villains and his reactions to them are some of the best laughs in the film. Cara Delevingne is also a surprise as June Moone and the Enchantress, I loved the visual effects for her character and her transformations into Enchantress are equally impressive and creepy. And while Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje doesn’t say much as Killer Croc, he is one of the most visually striking of the characters.

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Slashfilm says it’s just a fun time:

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.

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.

The Daily Beast echoes Slashfilm: It’s just fun.

The beautiful thing about Suicide Squad is how, deep down at its core, it’s the realest comic book movies get: A movie about people who need people. Even the irredeemable degenerates, the villains of the world who’ve not only violated the rules of society but set them on fire—ike Deadshot (Will Smith), a killer for hire who’s actually a loving deadbeat daddy at heart, or Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the deranged villainess locked in a torrid true romance with an unhinged psychopath (Oscar-winner Jared Leto).
That’s a relatively warm and fuzzy takeaway from DC and Warner Bros.’ first sidestep from the brawny chest-puffing bravado of Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, two self-serious superhero blockbusters that managed to turn the historic meeting of DC’s most iconic characters into a heroic pissing contest. And while it’s a bright, grimy, candy-colored mess, at least Suicide Squad is here to lighten up the place, break a few vases, take a few shots, and have some fun.

Meanwhile, Vanity Fair absolutely loathed it:

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.

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Finally, Variety has a few particularly rough thoughts on the villain:

When the Enchantress gets loose, she picks a subway commuter at random and transforms him into her brother, the Adversary, vowing to destroy mankind and opening one of those giant purple vortexes where the clouds part and a massive electricity field funnels ominously into the center of a heavily populated area (as seen in “The Avengers,” “Ghostbusters” and countless other brink-of-doom scenarios). Except that Midway City appears to be deserted, except for an army of bubbling-tar-headed foot soldiers ready to do the Enchantress’ bidding — which gives the members of Task Force X something to occupy them until Ayer is ready for the final confrontation with the Enchantress, who is, let’s face it, the lamest DC villain since Sharon Stone stalked “Catwoman.”

A few more brief reviews from Twitter:

Suicide Squad hits theaters this Friday.

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