Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay demonstrates how strong the movies in the DC Original Animated line can be when they’re not tied to the best-known characters or repeating widely read storylines. It’s a road trip/object chase movie with a ton of villains chasing after a magical MacGuffin. It’s rated R for “strong bloody violence throughout, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and some drug material”.
And they mean it. The opening segment, a mission with Deadshot (Christian Slater, doing an excellent job), Count Vertigo (Jim Pirri), and Punch (Trevor Devall) and Jewelee (Julie Nathanson) sent against Tobias Whale, is of note primarily for the violent deaths, with lots of people machine-gunned and a few of Amanda Waller’s (Vanessa Williams) reprimands, involving exploding heads.
(Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free review copy of this movie.)
The main mission brings together Deadshot, Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre), Killer Frost (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Copperhead (Gideon Emery), and Bronze Tiger (Billy Brown). They’re sent to recapture a missing card Waller wants retrieved “off the books”, a personal mission that turns into a road trip.
First stop: a strip club where the guy they’re looking for is on stage. Which illustrates one of the things that made this movie such a mixed bag for me — although wallowing in gore and other adult subjects, it seems to take a more inclusive view of the audience and includes a good amount of humor. There’s a character who’s basically “idiot Dr. Fate” who provides some unexpected comedy.
More importantly, there are a lot of female characters, which is nice to see. The multiple team set-up allows for a bunch of villains to get some screen time, and because this isn’t a Justice League movie, they don’t have to be well-known.
Also involved in this villain-stuffed chase to recover the object are a team of Zoom (C. Thomas Howell), Silver Banshee (Julie Nathanson again), and Blockbuster (Dave Fennoy), plus the pairing of Scandal Savage (Dania Ramirez) and Knockout (Cissy Jones). (Since when does Scandal sport Wolverine-like claws, though?) I’ve always liked those two as a vigilante couple. There are references to the events of The Flashpoint Paradox, for continuity fans.
And I wound up liking a lot more of this than I expected to. It kept my interest throughout, and the “anyone can go” aspect (well, except for Harley Quinn, media darling) kept surprising me. The most annoying thing was the music, which aims to be metal but is too prominent.
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay was written by Alan Burnett, his last before retirement. It’s available in a Blu-ray combo pack, the new 4K UltraHD format, or a plain DVD edition starting tomorrow.
“Outback Rogue: Captain Boomerang” is five minutes about the least interesting of the core team. The producers love him because he has no internal censor so he’ll say almost anything, but that’s Harley’s role now. They can talk up how versatile and dangerous and wise-cracking he is, but I still think he’s a waste of screen time.
“Nice Shot, Floyd! The Greatest Marksman in the DCU” is a similar five-minute paean to Deadshot. I know they want to make these roles more complex (which probably helps with casting, among other things), but these killers don’t really need to be so complicated.
“The Power of Plot Devices, MacGuffins, and Red Herrings” manages to talk about the differences among these things for ten minutes.
There are sneak peaks at Batman: Assault on Arkham (where the Suicide Squad previously appeared animated), Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (I don’t know why – I would have included Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox), and the upcoming Death of Superman. In the latter, they address retelling the original movie version, Superman: Doomsday, by incorporating the Justice League this time around; this version also has the awful 52-inspired costume.
The vault episodes are Beware the Batman: Instinct (perhaps because it features Professor Pyg, who has a role in this movie) and Young Justice: Terrors (set in Belle Reve, with a bunch of super-villains).
I did not realize this is Alan Burnett’s last work. I am a big fan of his 80s DC work, and am glad he ended his career on a high note.
However, I will probably skip this film as I just can’t stand many of the elements of the “New 52” Suicide Squad. The preview really helped me realize that.
And that’s useful as well. Not everything is for everyone.