After the so-so reception for 2016's live-action Suicide Squad, Warner Bros is having another crack at it with this new animated feature, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay. And it's a much better effort on quite a few fronts.
The plot sees Belle Reve prison warden Amanda Waller (Vanessa Williams) putting together a team of supervillains – including familiar faces such as Deadshot (Christian Slater), Killer Frost (Kristen Bauer van Straten), Captain Boomerang (Aussie Liam McIntyre) and Harley Quinn (Tara Strong) – to go on a dangerous mission to retrieve a mystical artifact. The artifact in question is only of use to the bearer after death, for it is a card that grants you an exemption from Hell – it is, literally, a Get Out of Hell Free card. Of course the team, led by Deadshot, are all quite keen to get their hands on the card for their own use.
Hell to Pay is dark and gritty, bloody and sweary; this is the film that we all wanted the live-action Suicide Squad to be. IN fact, imagine a grindhouse-style Suicide Squad film directed by Quentin Tarantino and you have an idea of just what hell to Pay is like. There are no heroes here, just villains – although some are worse than others. Slater makes an excellent Deadshot, bringing a nice sarcastic tone to the role that Will Smith's performance in the live-action film lacked. Stgronog makes a cute and playful yet quite evil Harley Quinn, although for me Margot Robbie still has the edge. The rest of the Squad is made up of martial artist Bronze Tiger (Billy Brown) and the serpentine Copperhead (Gideon Emery). Their mission pits them against a team of nogoodniks led by Zoom (C Thomas Howell), who are also after the card, as well as Vandal Savage (Jim Pirri), who has sent his daughter Scandal (Dania Ramirez), and her tough girlfriend Knockout (Cissy Jones), to get the card for him. And thus the stage is set for all sorts of violent shenanigans.
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay more than earns its 15 certificate (it's an R in the US); this is definitely no Saturday-morning cartoon in the vein of Superfriends or Scooby Doo. The action moves at a frenetic pace and the film ably manages to juggle its large roster of characters. As you'd expect with a film that consists of nothing but villains, there are plenty of shady dealings and double crossings going on. Hell to Pay is a nicely animated and highly entertaining watch, and shows just how much fun the Suicide Squad can be in the right hands.
EXTRAS: There's an excellent audio commentary with executive producer James Tucker director and writer and co-producer Alan Burnett; the featurette A Sneak Peak at DC Universe's Next Animated Feature, The Death of Superman (7:06); the featurette Outback Rogue: Captain Boomerang (5:14); the featurette Nice Shot, Floyd! The Greatest Marksman in the DCU (5:36); the featurette The Power of Plot Devices, MacGuffins and Red Herrings (10:30); the featurette A Sneak Peak at DCU Batman: Assault on Arkham (7:29); the featurette A Sneak Peak at Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (7:48); From the DC Comics Vault: Beware the Batman, Instinct (22:04), which is Episode 11 from Season One; From the DC Comics Vault: Young Justice, Terrors (22:39), whihc is also Episode 11 from Season One; and Trailers for Deep Blue Sea 2 and Batman Ninja.