Verdict: 3.5 / 5
The Suicide Squad was always meant to be a super-powered hybrid of Mission: Impossible and The Dirty Dozen. That’s made very clear in the pre-credits introduction, where we see the tail-end of one of their missions which goes horribly wrong. It’s a great intro which really works, and unlike the live-action Suicide Squad film it shows that the people behind this understand what it’s supposed to be. When Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay’s main plot hits, it works… until it sadly runs out of creative steam.
Once that happens the movie becomes a tiresome game of hot potato with the mystical totem – literally a Get Out Of Hell Free card – being bounced about pointlessly. It’s a MacGuffin, and an amusing one at that, but there needed to be more.
Having survived yet another mission with black ops supervillain team Task Force X, better known as the Suicide Squad, Deadshot’s position in the group is jeopardized by his own moral code. But when the Squad’s commander Amanda Waller learns of her impending death, she has no choice but to send the team on a mission to save her own soul. Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Frost, Captain Boomerang, Bronze Tiger and Copperhead’s latest cross-country mission is to recover one of Doctor Fate’s mystical totems, and that means… a road trip!
In their unlikeliest adventure, the Suicide Squad race against time and come into conflict with the Reverse-Flash and the immortal Vandal Savage who are seeking the same thing as Waller: redemption. But who truly deserves a second chance, and can Deadshot put his personal feelings and problems behind him for the sake of the mission?
Despite a simplistic storyline, there are too many plot holes and questions left unanswered. Why does Vandal Savage show so little concern for his daughter? Why is Waller suddenly so concerned about her immortal soul, and is her plan merely selfish or does she truly believe that she deserves redemption? Wait, does this film tie in with Flashpoint? Why are there so many betrayals? What role does Harley play in the team?
No, seriously… why IS Harley in this team? Her “power” seems to be hitting people with a baseball bat.
Presumably, it’s because she’s popular and it’ll help the film make some cash, as she continues to be DC’s latest cash cow. If you’re a fan of her, don’t be fooled by this film. Harley contributes nothing to the story or action, and her role is to stand in the background of some scenes and say the occasional “kooky” one-liner which falls flat. Beyond that she does NOTHING!
Which, for the record, works (although presumably by accident). If this film belongs to any one character, it’s Deadshot and that’s how it should be. Fans will know that at times he’s more an anti-hero than a villain, which makes him the pivotal character in this story. It’s just a shame that he isn’t highlighted better. Instead, we’re presented with a wide array of other characters who dilute the focus he should have gotten here.
The abundance of characters may be fun and their selfish motivations may be interesting, but details about them aren’t covered properly. While it’s always good seeing less-familiar DC characters on screen, here there are too many and with too few details about them offered. Without proper explanations of who they are, viewers unfamiliar with them from the comics may be left in the dark, while their motivations seem vague. Also… for crying out loud, can we PLEASE get the proper Amanda Waller character design back?! The Wall shouldn’t be looking like a retired supermodel.
The action is fast, the dialogue occasionally snappy (Boomerang, as always, is comedy gold), and there’s enough violence, blood and sexual imagery to please the more hardcore audience. The style is reminiscent of a Tarantino film, so people looking for that kind of movie should be happy even though it lacks depth. It’s a better film than the live action version, but isn’t as good as the Assault on Arkham animated movie.
Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay isn’t for kids, and it’s another step backwards for DC’s animated films. There are some good moments scattered about, and if you like the Suicide Squad as a franchise then this may satisfy you. However, at the end of the day, it’s just one step above average and doesn’t live up to its potential.