Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay a Decent Grindhouse Supervillain Flick

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Suicide Squad Hell To Pay

In the DC Universe, there is an afterlife. That's not a philosophical debate, it's an actual thing, and it presents a number of sticky problems that the players have to deal with, not always in a fashion consistent with the ramifications of there being a Heaven and a Hell. It's the focal point of this latest DC Animated Universe release, SUICIDE SQUAD: HELL TO PAY.

Amanda Waller (VANESSA WILLIAMS) has an off-the-books mission. Which is odd, because one would think that any mission involving a black ops team of incarcerated criminals would be "off the books" but I guess this one is so far off the books it's right out of the library. After rooting out a mole inside Task Force X, the offiicial name of the Suicide Squad, Waller puts together a new team: Deadshot (CHRISTIAN SLATER), Bronze Tiger (BILLY BROWN), Killer Frost (KRISTIN BAUER VAN STRATEN), Copperhead (GIDEON EMERY), Captain Boomerang (LIAM MCINTYRE) and Harley Quinn (TARA STRONG). Their mission is to retrieve a stolen card with magical properties -- it's literally a "Get Out of Hell Free" card. If you die with it in your possession, you bypass eternal damnation and go straight to the Pearly Gates. It's been stolen from one of the previous incarnations of Doctor Fate who, abandonded by Nabu, now makes his living as a male stripper named Maxum Steel (GREG GRUNBERG). Oh, and the card can only be used once, so it has to be retrieved very carefully.

What follows is an insanely bloody cross-country road trip in a Winnebago that takes the squad from Belle Reve to Branson, from strip joints to high security high-rises. And they encounter their own share of super-villain obstacles along the way, as they're not the only ones after the card: Zoom (C. THOMAS HOWELL) is after it for himself, and has recruited Silver Banshee (JULIE NATHANSON) and Blockbuster to help him. His motives are uniquely interesting, and tie in to the events of 2013's JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX, but to reveal more than that would spoil a critical story point.

Also interested in the card is Vandal Savage (JIM PIRRI), who has conscripted the assistance of his daughter Scandal (DANIA RAMIREZ) and her lover, Knockout (CISSY JONES). He also has brought in Professor Pyg (JAMES URBANIAK) for a special assist, although his character was the least necessary for inclusion as his role could have been performed by any civilian doctor.

If SUICIDE SQUAD: HELL TO PAY is truly a connected part to the overall DC Animated Universe canon -- and the ties to THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX would seem to indicate it is -- then there was a lot of high-profile cannon fodder that won't get re-used in future releases. The writers make it clear within the first few minutes of the show that they aren't shy about killing off characters -- and not off panel, but as graphically as possible! The R-rating even warns of 'brief graphic nudity' (I'll spoil it -- you get a side-shot of Knockout; get your pause buttons ready if you're so inclined).  

Despite the nits that have been picked, SUICIDE SQUAD: HELL TO PAY is one hell of a fun ride. Done in grindhouse style, this  adventure is a no-holds-barred, wall-to-wall action flick that soaks your screen in blood and feeds your need for violence. It's a great flick to kick back and watch with a few cold ones at the ready.

The bonus features on this release include a sneak peek at the next DCAU release. Usually I'm pretty excited about these, but this time I'm left nonplussed, because it's THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN. Forgive me, but is 10 years the accepted schedule for recycling your own material? Those who've been following the DCAU releases since they began may remember that the very first direct-to-DVD animated move they did was SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY -- which in and of itself was the story of Superman battling Doomsday to the death. Having it redone in the New 52 style rather than the original Timmverse style seems to be the epitome of change for the sake of change. For right now, it's not moving my meter any.

Other featurettes include looks at Captain Boomerang and Deatshot, a making-of bit about the plot device, and a gallery of stills.

4.0 / 5.0