Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Suicide Squad

Margot Robbie and Will Smith trapped in a droopy super-mess.

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Suicide Squad
Warner Bros

Sitting through Suicide Squad is like looking forward to Christmas all year and then waking up on the big day to find Santa Claus sprawled out dead under your tree. The movie is a major disappointment, especially since we've been living with its insistent marketing since last summer, when the film's snappy trailer was unveiled at Comic-Con. As we now see, virtually every lively moment in the picture is in that trailer. The rest of the finished product is all let-down.

By this point, we shouldn't be surprised. With the listless Man of Steel and the dismal Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC Comics and its corporate overlords at Warner Bros. have been batting about zero (although not at the international box office) in their struggle to catch up with the booming Marvel franchise machine. Now there's this, and their coolness stats may be descending into negative numbers.

There's no point in over-analyzing this desperate studio product (rated PG-13 for maximum blandness), but the movie's deficiencies really are startling. Apart from its murky action and uber-cheesy CGI, there are far too many characters. The best of them—because they're given enough screen time to hold our interest—are Will Smith's Deadshot, a breezy hitman; Jay Hernandez's Diablo, a flame-throwing gangbanger ("I have the Devil's gift"); and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, nutjob girlfriend of the minimally present Joker (played by Jared Leto with a mannered feyness so annoying it suggests a talking mime).

Harley and Deadshot have been sprung from a black-site prison by a shadowy government functionary named Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, classing up the joint a bit). In the absence of Superman (see Batman v Superman), Waller is assembling a team of inmates, both "meta-humans" and simple mayhem specialists, to battle a new supernatural threat—an "extra-dimensional entity" called the Enchantress, who's taken up residence inside a mild-mannered archeologist named June Moone (English runway model Cara Delevingne, way out of her depth).

The rest of the team is mainly clutter. The Aussie called Boomerang (Jai Courtney) throws a boomerang. The lizard-skinned Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) grunts a lot, does a bit of swimming, and generally Hulks around. Also loitering about are Japanese sword girl Katana (Karen Fukuhara), who deserves a better movie than this one; and team leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a simple soldier in search of even one good line. Ancillary appearances are made by The Flash (Ezra Miller) and the rope-flinging Slipknot (Adam Beach), who are on hand, for mere moments, to provide fan service. Most unfortunately, Ben Affleck's growly Batman also turns up, his sourball presence sucking the air out of the two brief scenes in which he figures.

Writer-director David Ayer is a talented man (he previously directed End of Watch and the Brad Pitt war movie Fury, and he once scripted Training Day). But rapier wit and big fantasy action aren't his strong points. Deadshot is given things to say like "That shit's crazy" and "I'm gonna rain down on you like the Holy Ghost." Harley, huffing up a long flight of stairs, says, "I gotta work on my cardio." Thud, thud, thud.

The movie is repeatedly derailed by time-outs to sketch in character backstories, and the action—much of it just fistfights and gunplay—is often obscured by the familiar dark-and-rainy environments in which it's staged. There are also problems of digital visualization. The swirly electro-mist in which the Enchantress operates might have been imported from the 1980s, and her zomboid minions aren't very scary—they look like towering stacks of charcoal briquettes, and they're easily dispatched with a bullet or two, or a swat of Harley's baseball bat. The movie is further plagued by a soundtrack filled with totally on-the-nose pop hits. Are we in New Orleans? Here's "House of the Rising Sun." Is something going on up above? Let's have a little "Spirit in the Sky." (A more pressing question: Can we please have a moratorium on all future cinematical uses of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil"?)

This movie will surely do business in a slow month. But like its two DC-universe predecessors, it may not be remembered fondly by fan folk. Or maybe remembered at all.

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  1. Sitting through Suicide Squad is like looking forward to Christmas all year and then waking up on the big day to find Santa Claus sprawled out dead under your tree.

    Second best opening line to a Suicide Squad review I’ve read this week, with the top spot going to Mick LaSalle with:

    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.

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  2. I just want to all of the Sexism, and Gun Worship. If I want to watch the real Suicide Squad I would watch the cartoon movie.

    =D

  3. The only Reason (Drink) I am going to see this in the Theater is to say “Fuck You” to the so called “Remake” of Ghost Busters.

    1. Suicide Squad was certainly better than Ghostbusters 2016. Of course that’s not saying much (except for the fact that the “professional” movie reviewers jizzed all over themselves to call it fantastic to keep from being labeled misogynists). Personally, I thought they should have made SS more in-line with a Deadpool-type movie instead of going with the bland action-movie. It was certainly funny in many places at just the right time. Despite Loder’s claim, Killer Croc had a few good lines that were funny. The ones that had the most development (and the ones you’re most sympathetic with) were Deadshot, Harley Quinn and El Diablo.

      You can sort of tell where the movie execs got too involved since the movie is extremely choppy in a few spots and the final fight has no tension whatsoever. Almost felt like I was watching the George Lucas first cut of Star Wars….

      1. Well, damn – from the ads I had the idea SS was a Deadpool-type movie. I have no idea who these comic book characters are or anything about them but I did go see Deadpool and I liked it so I was looking forward to SS.

      2. i still can’t figure out if ghostbusters was passable, or its just my expectations were so low that it seemed good by comparison.

    2. I got a free ticket when I bought Constantine for 5 bucks on Amazon.

  4. What about those of us who wouldn’t mind Santa sprawled out dead under the Christmas tree?

    1. YOU KILLED SANTA??? you bastard!!!

  5. Suicide Squad is a movie?????? All week long I thought it was the latest nickname for the Clinton/Trump race.

    1. Harlery Quinnton is a character whose importance largely comes from being the consort of a more notable male villain. Though Trump and Joker are the card metaphors…

      1. Cruz was a prosector, but is someone you can kind of root for, and he was publicly accused of being two-faced. So, that one’s obvious.

        Jeb is probably Black Mask.

        1. Christie is Penguin, I guess. Rubio is Bane.

          1. Rubio is Bane.

            Little Marco? Nah.

        2. Jeb is probably Black Mask.

          More like Clayface.

  6. Justice League of Juggalos

  7. Deadpool:SS::GTA:SaintRow

    (when analyzing the analogy, keep in mind i didnt hear about SS until now and Ive never played Saints. just something about the clown makeup i guess.)

    1. I’ve heard Saints Row is a very fun, silly, frenetic game, so it sounds more analogous to Deadpool.

      1. Thankfully for SR2 THQ stopped trying to be GTA, otherwise there would be no missions like spraying down a housing development with the effluvium from a septic tanker truck.
        SR3 and 4 are progressively a bit wackier and worth every penny if you get them during the Steam sales. No other franchise I can think of offers zombies, a military take-over of the player’s city, Japanese-style game shows with a homicidal mechanic, a ‘dubstep gun’, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper, Burt Reynolds as Mayor and Keith David as the main character’s Vice President.
        Yeah, it was lots of fun!

      2. Yeah, Saint’s Row (at least after the first one) is like GTA without any real seriousness whatsoever. It goes the opposite direction from GTA that this movie goes from Deadpool. This movie looks like they took something that started off almost Deadpool-esque, then they decided to make everything grim and dark and gritty, but also less violent, because DC seems to think making everything grimderp is the way to sell movies, and heaven forbid they go further than PG-13 because they’ve gotta make sure their film can be watched by children.

    2. I think GTA is a masterpiece, and as an added bonus, my wife gets all pearl-clutchy when she sees our 12-year-old son playing it.

      1. Duh, otherwise your son would steal those pearls.

      2. Haha I agree. Though I’m glad GTA took a step back from the gritty realism of iv in v.

        Your wife should relax, I started playing Gta 3 when I was 11 and I haven’t raped or killed anyone important to this day.

  8. But rapier wit and big fantasy action aren’t his strong points. Deadshot is given things to say like “That shit’s crazy” and “I’m gonna rain down on you like the Holy Ghost.” Harley, huffing up a long flight of stairs, says, “I gotta work on my cardio.” Thud, thud, thud.

    ??? That’s hardly rapey at all.

    1. STEVE SMITH ALSO DISAPPOINTED. DEMAND REFUND OR RAPE THEATER MANAGER.

      1. managing a Rape Theater is probably a crappy job.

    2. Who the hell complains about Margo bouncing up a few flights of stairs?

  9. Are you really serious? I never thought that this movie not worth watching. Nevertheless, I will go and watch. Download Google Play Services APK

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    2. SugarFree looms large, even over bots.

  10. This seemed like it was up my alley as I’m a major villain-phile and a fan of ensemble casts, but I’m already sick of carelessly greenlighted comic book flicks solely for the sake of comic book flicks, so I probably shouldn’t reward them for making this. Maybe I’ll catch it on DVD.

  11. I’m a horrible person for taking joy in everyone’s disappointment, but I’m kind of hoping that this will signal the beginning of the end of the superhero trend.

    1. nope.

      it’ll just highlight that DC still has it’s head up it’s ass.

    2. Why?

      It’s pretty much a genre in it’s own right now and it’s not like hollywood doesn’t make a crap ton of other movies, including ridiculous action movies, if comic book movies aren’t your flavor.

      1. I wouldn’t argue with the fact that it’s a genre, but it’s also a trend and it is one of the more formulaic genres…like horror. It’s boring.

        Hollywood has been seriously sucking lately, I’m tired of all the rehashed stuff. The superhero thing is just one of many examples.

    3. It won’t, because International Audiences Gobble Up Big Spectacle Shit Like Crazy.

      There are any number of failed blockbusters that land with a thud in the US and still make a mint when the overseas totals are added in.

      And if I’m in SE Asia and my choice is some CGI Slaz-fest or another Bollywood flick, it’s not hard to understand.

      1. Pretty much this. Hollywood is fully aware that the international market will save any of the disasters they decide to produce as long as it’s big, flashy, and not too complicated. Even most American’s will go and see movies like this out of pure fandom, so it’s basically win/win for the studio’s although DC is burning bridges with every film they make and eventually this rolling disaster of a studio is going to bomb without serious reworks of basically everything they’ve done.

    4. “the beginning of the end of the superhero trend.”

      Doesn’t seem likely. Marvel’s making tons of money and tons of successes, regardless of how much DC flails around trying to be grimderp and edgy.

  12. The Aussie called Boomerang (Jai Courtney) throws a boomerang.

    And I thought we were scraping the bottom of the superhero barrel with “Ant-Man.”

    1. Y’know, Mint Berry Crunch, I don’t think you really get to talk, knowhatmsayin’?

      1. I know what you are saying, but if anything, shouldn’t MBC be an expert on underwhelming heros?

    2. Just wait till this comes out…

      http://movieweb.com/squirrel-g…..-kendrick/

      1. Wonder if the film will have her singing “Cups” 2 or 3 times in a row.

      2. That sounds nuts.

    3. Ant-Man was good.

    4. I have to admit, I thought the idea of Ant-Man, when I first heard it, was dumb.

      I mean if someone like DC had been behind it with their insane drive to make everything dark and gritty, the resulting movie would have just been plain stupid.

      But the people behind Ant-Man decided not to take themselves too seriously, had fun with it, and actually came up with a good movie.

  13. It’s odd. DC live films have tended to stink on ice, while Marvel’s have been decent to great fun. Conversely, DC’s animated films have been quite good, and Marvel’s have been awful except for the Anime outsourcing ones.

    I can’t say much about the TV shows; I don’t watch TV enough to know.

    It’s a pity this film doesn’t live up to its promise. I was hoping that, with this and Deadpool, we’d have a trend for oddball comic adaptations. I want to see a Damage Control movie.

    1. They’re making a Damage Control TV show. Coming out later this year or next year, I forget.

    2. Seems like I read someplace they were planning a Damage Control TV series. Movie or TV, Damage Control done right should be some awesome fun.

    3. I have noticed this for many years. Part of it is that DC’s animated world is mostly run by the same group of producers/writers that did the Animated Batman series. All of them love comics deeply. And I think the fact that they are animated films lets them escape the usual Hollywood pressures that produce dumbed-down, snarky, overblown, commercial mince meat.

    4. Jessica Jones on Netflix was pretty good. Daredevil second season was good, however it was the Punisher that made it good.

  14. rated PG-13 for maximum blandness

    Bravo, Loder. Awesome bon mot there….

  15. I’m going to see it on Sunday and because I reserve judgement on movies and games until I’ve actually seen/played them I don’t really put much stock in critics opinions.

    Having said that, I can totally see the execs fucking this up, much as they did BvS (which I liked). And if they were heavily involved in the editing and pushing for a PG-13 rating, that seems very likely.

    I’d put money down now that the director’s or ultimate cut that gets released on dvd at Christmas is 10x better too.

  16. Affleck’s Batman is good going forward

  17. Serious question. Are there any good PG-13 movies out there? They all seem to be shitty tame summer blockbusters.

    1. G or R for everything good.

  18. You have to wonder just what in the fuck is wrong with the suits at WB, to keep throwing out dud after dud. You make one excellent Batman film, one fairly good one and one that’s …tolerable.. and it all goes to your overstuffed head.

    Meanwhile, over at at Marvel ,even their less than terrific films **COUGH Ultron COUGH*** are still better than almost any of the DC brand.

    1. You make one excellent Batman film, one fairly good one and one that’s …tolerable.. and it all goes to your overstuffed head.

      Nolan gave them a universe to use with a segue into a Robin film, and they threw it all out in favor of Zack Snyder dreck.

      1. Check out the Honest Trailer for Watchmen. They are pretty rough on ol’ Zack.

        1. As they should be. I had no idea a movie that is practically a shot for panel remake of such a great comic could be so completely disappointing.

  19. (played by Jared Leto with a mannered feyness so annoying it suggests a talking mime).

    BUT HE PREPARED FOR MONTHS

    seriously, hardly anything can be more idiotic that trying to brag about the intense preparations of your cast for roles that are effectively “Act weird”.

    Once Heath Ledger did his “greatest actor in the world”-Joker, no one else who ever gets that role is allowed to just go, “fuck it, i’m just going to wing it!”

    They have to pretend its like a major life-moment… where they MUST put their own ‘greatest-actor-signature’ on this otherwise throwaway role. Its setting up this retarded “Joker-as-Hamlet” scheme which has nothing to do with simply making a decent, entertaining movie. No one cares how deeply you invested yourself into the thing dude.

    The whole framework sort of sets itself up for failure. If i were an actor, i’d fucking avoid things like that like the plague unless it were a script that basically handed me a free-academy-award-nomination. An ensemble piece where there’s no chance to even stretch out? why even bother.

    1. Considering that the guy that did the Joker before some kid who was almost purely a teen rom-com actor was Jack Fucking Nicholson I think it’s pretty clear that Ledger had to bring his A game or be forever trapped in mediocrity. I think the stigma is more related to the fact that everyone wanted more Ledger Joker, but he’s dead so you just can’t recreate that. It was a serious blow to the entire franchise.

  20. Also loitering about are Japanese sword girl Katana (Karen Fukuhara),

    They need to remake “Blood: The Last Vampire”.

    1. Only if directed by Takashi Miike.

    2. You mean “Blood: The Last Vampire, and we really mean it this time”?

  21. Who cares. It’s summer, it’s hot, and I want to escape to a cool dark room and be entertained watching crap go boom. This isn’t a deeply moving art film, it isn’t a documentary, it’s mindless entertainment?nothing more.

  22. “Can we please have a moratorium on all future cinematical uses of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”?”

    But who would.pay for Keith Richards daily dialysis and bimonthly orphan organ transplants? Obamacare? NHS?

  23. Sadly, the only thing I really remember is the beginning, when I turned to my son and ask, “What? Superman died?”

  24. Watch the last comic con trailer and save your money. The trailer was better than the movie. I think it was because of the song Heathen by 21 pilots which made it seem dark.

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