Dear Critics: Suicide Squad Is NOT Terrible!
Are critics out of touch with movie audiences?
Are audiences enabling bad movies?
Suicide Squad currently sits at 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. Before we get into that, can we please stop with the petitions to have Rotten Tomatoes shut down? They don’t write the reviews! When it comes to RT, I’m always interested in the number leading up to a release but I don’t let it influence my film choices. I’m certainly not angry at the review aggregator for other people’s opinions.
Honestly, I don’t care that approximately 4/5 critics hated the film. Neither did the rest of the world as the film SMASHED August domestic box office records to the tune of 135 million. The Squad added a respectable 132 million internationally for a world wide haul of 267 million dollars. Not bad for a crappy movie.
I’m sure critics will be the first to admit the film’s marketing campaign was brilliant. Hype for DC’s team of baddies was also bolstered by a remarkable cast overflowing with bankable stars. Still, the review embargo lifted and the hatred spilled all over the internet.
It’s actually not that surprising. I thought we would get advanced reviews weeks before they actually hit the web. Was DC aware of the film’s critical… ahem… Appeal? Did they know it would be THIS bad? Especially after the Batman v Superman debacle? It’s actually unreal/hilarious how badly Suicide Squad is disliked by film critics. Here are a couple quotes pulled from around the web to really hammer this point home:
“Suicide Squad is the most miserable time I’ve had at the movies in my life.” Calum Marsh, National Post
“There’s simply no reason to care about anything or anyone in this bumbling ballet of idiocy and pyrotechnics.” J.R. Kinnard, Pop Matters
“…An all-out attack on the whole idea of entertainment,” Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
“The story is bad. It’s confusing, poorly edited and just way too over the top and contrived.” Mike Ryan, Uproxx
“Two hours of padding.” Amy Nicholson, MTV
“It’s massive, messy and noisy. And it stinks.” Christy Lemire, rogerebert.com
“Bland, boring, and sometimes borderline incoherent.” Matt Singer, Screen Crush
“Suicide Squad is a concept in search of a story worth telling.” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Was Suicide Squad really that bad? F*ck no!
… Let’s discuss…
First, let’s flip the script: AUDIENCES have given the film a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes… How can audiences and critics be so far apart? It’s not the first time it’s happened but did Suicide Squad deserve such a thrashing by critics?
This year’s summer movie season has been full of disappointments. Critics have had PLENTY to complain about including Warcraft (Critics 28%/ Fans 77%), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (38%/53%), The Legend of Tarzan (35%/66%), Independence Day: Resurgence (32%/34%), X-Men: Apocalypse (48%/71%) and more…
Critics hated a lot of big movies this summer but audiences enjoyed a few films a great deal. So… Are critics out of touch with what audiences want? Or are audiences simply more forgiving of films with flaws?
I saw Suicide Squad on opening day. Yes. It has its problems but is it a terrible movie? No. It’s a decent-good movie with a TON of fun moments. A few weeks back, I counted down 10 ways Suicide Squad will help the DC Extended Universe Explode. I’m going back to that post to help me break down how I felt about David Ayer’s team of villains.
#10 – Reasonable Expectations – Suicide Squad is a brand new franchise with all new characters. We’ve been spoiled lately with a lack of drawn out origin stories. Unfortunately, there is a lot of exposition in Suicide Squad. An exceptional amount. Especially in the first act. Unfortunately, a lot of dialogue comes across as information rather than character. Still, I think Ayer did an admirable job balancing a giant ensemble of new characters.
#9 – All Star Squad – Batman v Superman was bad but nobody blames the cast. I think Suicide Squad falls into the same category. However, if you are building a new franchise with multiple sequels, I think they could have saved a few characters. Boomerang basically has nothing to do in this film. Slipknot aka ‘Exploding Head Plot Device’ might be one of the most useless characters of all time. Katana has a tragic story that’s completely rushed. Take any or all of those three out of the movie and it changes… Nothing. Deadshot, Harley, El Diablo and Flag get the majority of the film’s actual character development and I thought they were fantastic characters worth caring about.
#8 – Deadshot – My only real complaint about Will Smith as Deadshot is that it’s… Will Smith as Deadshot. It’s hard for Smith to disappear in such a role. Still, Smith is just as likeable and charming as ever as Deadshot and one of the highlights of the movie. He gets one kicks ass moment involving bullets and a bunch of eye ball goo monsters.
#7 – Unpredicability – This is a bit of a fail. We’ve seen so much of the film in the enormous marketing campaign leaving little room for surprises. There are a few ‘twists’ including a fairly decent turn involving Amanda Waller but it’s pretty straight forward storytelling. Even with a film that includes a brand new Joker.
#6 – History – We get a few Superman references and some well placed Batman cameos but this story is fairly self contained. I thought we would get something substantial like the story of Robin’s death during a Joker scene with Harley. Even a mention would have been cool. (I’m not counting the ‘blink and you’ll miss it Harley connection’.)
#5 – Magic – The whole idea of meta humans in the DCEU is good and expanding into the realm of magic opens up limitless possibilities. Perhaps doing it all in one movie is a bit much? Regardless, Enchantress and El Diablo fit right alongside Deadshot and Harley etc…
#4 – Harley Quinn – Margo Robbie is perfectly cast in the role and she’s a lot of fun in the film. She’s a little over matched standing next to El Diablo and Deadshot holding a baseball bat but she holds her own. Her scenes with Joker are fascinating to watch but most of those moments are rushed flashbacks. I’d watch a Joker/Harley movie because Suicide Squad doesn’t quite do the pair justice.
#3 – More Batman – Batman is used sparingly in the film and it works. There’s a weird moment between him and Harley but overall he doesn’t come across as forced. I’d love to see Deadshot go head to head with Batman in this universe in a future film.
#2 – The Joker – My first instinct is to say I didn’t really like The Joker in this film. I like the actor and the character just fine but he doesn’t do anything memorable. At least nothing as crazy as his predecessors. He fits into the story here and there in cameo form and that’s about it. In the end, I’ve decided to reserve judgement until we see him in a proper Joker story. Maybe in a solo Batman film? Set in Arkham perhaps?
#1 – Pure Insanity – Suicide Squad is an entertaining summer blockbuster. There are some glaring holes in the narrative but it’s still fun. Is it as insane as I hoped given the cast? No. But I enjoyed the film nonetheless. When I left the theater, I fully disagreed with critics. My first impression was that Suicide Squad is harmless and fun. Now that I’ve broken down my thoughts on the film further I get why people had issues. What I don’t understand is 26%. It’s not THAT BAD and certainly not as TERRIBLE as critics want you to believe.
When the dust settled on Suicide Squad’s opening weekend, many big sites reported a steep 40% drop off from Friday to Saturday. Does this prove Suicide Squad will eventually be seen as a failure? First of all, Friday’s total of 65 million includes Thursday’s preview showings. That 40% is probably lower given many preview showings happen before midnight.
Either way, I’m not trying to sugarcoat this. Critics think Suicide Squad is an F. Audiences believe the film is a solid B-. I’m somewhere in between. Time will tell if Suicide Squad will be profitable but that doesn’t matter anymore. The film is out there now. It’s part of the DC Universe.
My final take? I thought Suicide Squad would help the DC Universe explode. It didn’t. But if you love superhero movies and the comic book genre it’s worth a look. Moving forward, I think it’s painfully obvious to Warner Bros that they made a mistake rushing the DC Universe. I sincerely hope, Wonder Woman is a great movie setting up what should be an epic Justice League movie.
At this point, I feel like critics have already made up their minds that Justice League will be terrible. Either way, Warner Bros has a steep uphill climb ahead of them.
Where do you stand?
Fact #2… I feel I deserve points for leaving Marvel out of this review. The DCEU is trying to do it’s own thing and I’m getting tired of people demanding they act more like Marvel. I like the style of DC’s Universe. They just need to focus on individual stories and let the world building happen organically. Suicide Squad proves it still feels forced. Come on Wonder Woman!