I tried to avoid spoilers to this movie, but if you think I didn't, my apologies in advance.
It's been a while since I've reviewed something, so I thought I'd give my handful of readers my take on the new DC animated movie Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay For those familiar with the earlier animated Suicide Squad movie Assault on Arkham, I should tell you that this is not a sequel to that movie but rather follows the DC animated movie Flashpoint, a fact which isn't revealed until pretty late in the movie. That's too bad, because I thought Assault on Arkham was a great movie and vastly superior to the live-action film. The real giveaway that the two are not related is that Killer Frost, theoretically killed in Assault on Arkham, appears in Hell to Pay but with a different secret identity and costume (for those keeping track, the AoA version is Louise Lincoln, the HtP version is Crystal Frost).
Hell to Pay is a pretty standard Suicide Squad plotline: the (sometimes) superhuman villains in Belle Reeve Penitentiary are sent by Amanda Waller (now also the skinny version and not voiced by the late, missed CCH Pounder but by Vanessa Williams) to find a missing person and recover a "card" that the person has on him. The rules of the Suicide Squad have already been made clear in the prelude with the neck-bomb detonation of some C-list characters to show how ruthless Amanda Waller can be when handling the Squad members. Joining the regular crew is Bronze Tiger (a regular from the comic series), the aforementioned Killer Frost, and Copperhead.
Unlike the previous animated movie, the plot revolves around a supernatural element which emphasizes the natures of good and evil and the incongruity of a team of anti-heroes in that dynamic. The "card" in question guarantees its bearer gets into Heaven rather than Hell when that person dies, which at some level is so corny that it actually distracts from the rest of the film.
I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but there is the expected constant stream of action, double-crosses, snarky banter, and the odd bit of humor. What was surprising was how little Harley Quinn was in the movie, which could be either a good or bad thing depending on your feelings about the character. Deadshot, like the earlier films, remains the tentpole, sympathetic character. The ultimate villain is Vandal Savage, who also appeared in Justice League: Doom, making me idly wonder if they are in the same canon.
Flashpoint squeaked by with a PG-13 rating, despite its graphic violence. Hell to Pay rocks the full-on R rating for some surprisingly graphic violence, language, and the most ridiculously gratuitous one-second-long flash of female nudity. Despite featuring both a hedonistic villain's pleasure pad and a strip club, the film decides to slip the nudity into the most pointless moment possible in the film for the briefest of moments. Regardless, it isn't Justice League Unlimited.
I can see the interest in doing a movie that is more in line with the comic book version of the Suicide Squad in hopes of drawing new readers to that title, or getting readers to buy the movie. If you don't compare it to Assault on Arkham, Hell to Pay measures up as a solid Suicide Squad story with familiar characters and team dynamics. My biggest critique is the somewhat wacky plot device, which not only seemed to engage in bad theology but also a cosmology that is a little out of place in the DC canon.
Rating: rent, buy if you're a big fan