Saturday 14 July 2018

Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay ★★★★☆

We live in a post-2016-version-of-Suicide-Squad world. Can you remember life before it? I remember the enormous marketing campaign that seemed to last for years before the film’s release, and I sat back and watched as thousands – nay, millions – of people online lost their proverbial shit with excitement. This was going to be the greatest film they had ever seen, it seemed. And then it was released. And it was everything the fans hoped it wouldn’t be. Yes, DC had done it again. They’d taken remarkable source material and turned it into utter pants. This year, director Sam Liu attempted to right the 2016 adaptation’s wrongs with the 31st entry in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series.

Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay covers a special group of imprisoned villains being brought together by Amanda Waller to assemble Task Force X, assigned with the mission of retrieving a mystical object. Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost, and Copperhead risk their lives to find the powerful object. Sure, the plot isn’t particularly interesting. But when is it ever with films like this? And especially with a Suicide Squad film – does the plot matter? We’re just here to see violent carnage, and in Hell To Pay, we get that in spades.

Here’s a film that absolutely deserves its 15 rating. Copious amounts of murder and bad language fill the films 86 minutes in a way that would make Quentin Tarantino proud. Not only that, but there is some real Game of Thrones-level danger to keep us on the edges of our seats. Any character can drop at any time, and indeed do. On the film’s commentary track, executive producer James Tucker warns viewers not to get attached to any of the characters and its bloody good advice. There is a lot of bloodshed here, something that the 2016 adaptation was strongly lacking in its colourful and ‘fun’ delivery.

Despite the team appearing in Batman: Assault on Arkham, this is the first animated movie based on the Suicide Squad, set within the DCAU. Featuring an original story by Alan Burnett, Hell To Pay acts as an introductory film for these characters within the animated universe – and what a great introduction it is. But it’s hardly going to go down in history as a masterpiece. At the end of the day, the visuals aren’t perfect and with several of these animated comic book films seemingly coming out every month, there’s always going to be a bigger and better one just around the corner. But for the time being, this one is certainly worth checking out.

Quite simply, Hell To Pay absolutely is the film that 2016’s Suicide Squad should, and indeed could, have been. A dark, bloody and brutal adaptation of the dark, bloody and brutal characters, Hell To Pay is one of the strongest DC adventures in years. Even if you’re not remotely interested in comic book films, give this one a go – the grittiness and violence should make you realise that comics aren’t just for kids after all. Forget the 2016 adaptation ever happened. We have Hell To Pay now.

Sam Love

Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay at CeX

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