Title: Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Director: Sam Liu
Starring: Tara Strong, Christian Slater
Screenplay: Alan Burnett
Running time: 86 minutes
have been considerably excited for the release of Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay. Alongside Batman: Assault on Arkham – which also centered around the Suicide Squad – being my favorite DC animated movie, I have been looking for a nice palate cleanser ever since the disappointment of the live action version. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay starts off on a hell of a good note. Instead of opening the film with backstory and exposition, it begins in the Adriatic Sea as a submarine is following alongside a train. Amanda Waller has tasked Task Force X with the mission of recovering a flash drive containing leaked intelligence from Tobias Whale. To do so, the team consisting of Deadshot, Count Vertigo, Black Manta (submarine only), and criminal couple Punch and Jewelee, must board his train.
The opening action scene not only sets the tone for a campy yet gruesome story, but it is one of the best sequences that has ever taken place in the current DCU animated movie series. Alongside a violent, methodical sweep, and then a much louder bit of violence, the scene showed that just about anyone was expendable. It also reinforced how well this group develops the lesser known characters of the DC lore as well.
While everyone knows Harley Quinn and Deadshot, lesser known villains like Punch and Jewelee, Professor Pyg, and Copperhead were awesome, despite only playing support roles. The movie even managed to surprise me with one of the most interesting and comical takes on Dr. Fate I’ve ever seen as well. The comedy throughout actually worked really well.
In past instances, like in Batman and Harley Quinn, jokes either came off as childish, unfunny, or simply didn’t fit the tone. I found myself laughing more often than not in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay though, whether it was a joke or a situation. A lot of that can be attributed to the fact that it is rare that movies focus on the insane villains of the DC universe, which is always something that has made the Suicide Squad special. Also, it is kind of impossible to watch a meta contortionist who has heavily modified his body in order to look and act like a snake drive an RV without laughing.
I will say that there were a few hiccups when it came to the movie’s animation. Many scenes involving either travel or shots looking into the RV just didn’t match up to the rest of the textures, especially in comparison to the characters. One scene in particular near the end, featuring Boomerang, definitely skipped a few frames, making the Aussie seemingly teleport from one position to the next in the same scene.
While the story is somewhat simplistic – as a magical card owned by Dr. Fate/Nabu is sought after by those wishing to avoid hell when they die – it serves its purpose well, resulting in unique action sequences since they can’t risk killing the cardholder. It felt like almost every character had their moment to shine in an action scene too. Copperhead slithered around and wrapped up foes, Boomerang whipped around his toys, Deadshot sniped and gunned down a myriad of enemies, and Killer Frost killed in some cold-hearted ways (ice shish kabobs anyone?). Harley Quinn was the only one that simply felt like a placeholder in the entire gang.
While Tara Strong’s Quinn was easily the funniest character, her presence didn’t seem to be necessary for any of the situations whatsoever. Begging the question as to why Waller picked her? At least they didn’t try and make her a centerpiece protagonist like the live action movie did. With that being said, I’m not sure I have seen her portrayed better honestly. Quinn isn’t the only character I loved though.
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay’s representation of Bronze Tiger is one of the best I have ever seen. Whereas my previous experience with Ben Turner painted him as a one-dimensional fighter with bronze claws on the end of his fists (The CW’s Arrow), this version was anything but. Alongside being the greatest martial artist ever, his character’s motives offset the rest of the chaotic evil that is represented by the majority of the other group members.
Verdict: While I may have gone into the movie with low expectations, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay was a breath of fresh air. A campy story, diverse action sequences, and an excellent use of lesser known and pre-existing characters makes this a must watch for any DC fan. This was easily one of the best films to take place in the DC animated movie universe in a long time.
- Train opening
- Use of pre-existing characters and lesser known
- Comedy and campy tone
- Bronze Tiger
- Jumpy animation at times
- Harley Quinn's place in the squad