I like that DC/Warner Bros. are taking strides towards not being like their Marvel competitors. All the movies they’ve put out, thus far, are grittier, more grounded. Wonder Woman was phenomenal—saw it twice—and even Justice League impressed me with its aesthetic and hints at something bigger happening in the background of the universe. This Suicide Squad “sequel” is more brutal than the first, from 2016, and to its credit; these anti-heroes are raw, uncensored. However, as much as Hell to Pay gets right, it still has its flaws…

I loved Christian Slater (Very Bad Things, Mr. Robot) in the role of Deadshot, looking past the obvious change-up from Will Smith’s portrayal in the 2016 movie. Again, though, the filmmakers concentrate more on his arc as a hopefully-redeemable villain; if Batman’s philosophy stands, then even the cruelest of the cruel can be turned. I believe that’s so, in the case of Floyd Lawton, and his ultimately-selfless motivation for carrying on living. Slater’s performance, here, seemed legitimate—more hardened, not so phoned-in as Smith’s. Maybe it comes with age…and Slater’s a fantastic voice actor. All that said, though, the side-track that’s taken about two-thirds through the movie to “characterize” Lawton seems…shoehorned, padding for the plot.

Other characters are unfamiliar to me—Professor Pyg, Blockbuster, Silver Banshee—or aren’t involved enough in the plot to become likable. Copperhead, for example; I’d love to see him in a live-action DC film. Same with Bronze Tiger (voiced by Billy Brown; Cloverfield, Race to Witch Mountain (2009)). His is Lawton’s foil, but also the one whom tries to pull Deadshot from his crumbling life of crime. A grounding element that was missing from the previous Squad. New character intro. sequences are neat—much like the flare of the first movie’s. I did miss Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, here, but Captain Boomerang is a lot more exciting and palatable, in this animated rendition. I do want a Fate movie, though, after the tease in this one!

One weird macguffin (maybe I’m just not as read-up on my DC as I should be…) and a convoluted Zoom sub-plot, aside, I loved the Brave and the Bold animation style. Quick-paced, entertaining to watch—recalled memories of the original Teen Titans (the good one) from the 2000s. A little more blood and brutality, but, as I said, I’m fine with DC taking that grittier route.

Plenty of call-backs to the comics abound. True fans will eat them up. To me, it felt like a road movie with occasional stops for Task Force X to knock some circumstantial heads. Sub-plots are picked up and dropped, and the only thing I really took away in the end—besides the few characters I missed or really enjoyed—is the potential properties that can (now that Warner is becoming more ambitious) have their own stand-alone entries. Vandal Savage, for example; compelling character, with his long history in the world of DC, and could become a great antagonist for, say, the Justice League, down the line. Here, he’s breezed past as just another baddie, but I know he has so much more to offer than a punching bag for our protagonists.

A fun entry. A hand up from the 2016 installment, to be sure…but little more.

Final ‘Risk Assessment: 6 out of 10.