It’s batter up at Belle Reve and that can only mean that Amanda Waller, the penitentiary’s cold and calculating warden, has a mission that only the damned will take on. It’s time to unleash Task Force X again, stacked with seasoned vets such as Deadshot, Captain Boomerang and Harley Quinn, these crafty criminals are joined by newcomers Copperhead, Killer Frost and the martial art master, Bronze Tiger! With the target objective being a mystical object so powerful that they’re willing to risk their own lives to steal it, you can be sure it will be collision of chaos, gunfire and attitudes. So, take aim for a raging road trip with the Suicide Squad! [Warner Bros.]
So far, DC’s Animated Movie Universe (DCAMU) has focused primarily on Batman and the Justice League. However, recent films have also shed light on groups like the Teen Titans and Justice League Dark. The latest property to join this continuity is the Suicide Squad in Hell to Pay, which marks Task Force X’s first official animated movie. (Not counting Batman: Assault on Arkham, that is.)
Simply put, Hell to Pay is a lot of fun. It does justice to the titular group, with everyone from Deadshot to Killer Frost having decent arcs. I was particularly impressed by Bronze Tiger; his portrayal here made me a bigger fan of the character. But the movie not only focuses on the Squad, but it also features plenty of other DC antagonists. Vandal Savage, Eobard Thawne, and even Professor Pyg show up in the film. It’s a good love letter to the villains of the DC Universe.
DC recently began to give the OK to R-rated movies, and Hell to Pay continues that trend. But this film really earns that rating – arguably more so than the others. Over-the-top blood in action scenes? Check. Nudity? Check. Profanity? Check. An iconic DC superhero turning into a male stripper? Absolutely. This should be obvious for every R-rated movie, but if you’re thinking about showing this movie to younger audiences…just don’t.
Hell to Pay has a solid story overall. It’s very much a road trip tale for the Squad, who is tasked with recovering a mystical item from Vandal Savage. Meanwhile, they have to deal with Professor Zoom and other villains along the way. The story never feels bloated, and there are some neat plot twists here and there. (I particularly enjoyed one big reference to a previous movie.) Meanwhile, the animation style and character designs are the same as past DCAMU titles; it’s not bad here, but it’s not exactly groundbreaking either.
Also elevating Hell to Pay is its voice cast. Christian Slater is terrific as Deadshot, Billy Brown is perfect as Bronze Tiger, Liam McIntyre is pretty great as Captain Boomerang (I didn’t even recognize him at first), and Vanessa Williams is decent as Amanda Waller. Tara Strong returns as Harley Quinn; while she surprisingly doesn’t have as big a role as I anticipated, Harley is still memorable with her trademark comic relief. C. Thomas Howell is fantastic yet again as Professor Zoom. And overall, the rest of the cast was pretty good.
In the end, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is a solid expansion of the DCAMU. It’s not the best DC movie in the world, and it still has some issues (mostly with animation), but it’s a fun ride. Task Force X and other villains get their time to shine, while the story is intriguing. I continue to appreciate DC’s efforts to make more movies beyond its A-list heroes. If you’re a fan of the Suicide Squad, I definitely recommend this film. But, again, don’t show it to the kids.
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