A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is an animated movie that features action and humor, along with some of the most well-known "anti" superheroes in the DC Comics world (e.g., Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Bronze Tiger). It's business as usual for the Suicide Squad on a mission -- violent and gory from beginning to end: bombs, point-blank killings, heads blown off, dismemberment, impaling, brutal hand-to-hand combat. Bodies fly and pile up; blood spurts (including from eyes, ears, and nose); and machine guns let loose on scores of good guys, henchmen, and armed criminals. Profanities are heard occasionally, including "s--t," "bastard," "pissed off," "screwed," "crap," "ass," and "bitch." Some sexual situations appear: kissing, embracing, references to having sex, along with both male and female strippers pole dancing and executing sexual moves. One brief scene includes female nudity. Characters drink beer, and in one lengthy sequence, one of the lead characters searches for someone through drug-riddled streets and buildings; drug paraphernalia is visible. Not for kids.
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What's the story?
In SUICIDE SQUAD: HELL TO PAY, the "Squad," designated for this mission as "Task Force X," works at the behest of arch-enemy Amanda Waller (Vanessa Williams), the director of Belle Reve Correctional Institute, the prison in which they are incarcerated. Waller sends this mighty team of assorted dark souls, misfits, and criminals -- Deadshot (Christian Slater), Killer Frost (Kristen Bauer van Strauten), Bronze Tiger (Billy Brown), Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre), Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), and Copperhead (Gideon Emery) -- to rescue a mysterious card with an amazing power from an ever-increasing lineup of accomplished evildoers, including Vandal Savage and Professor Zoom. Each and every one of them will stop at nothing to get and retain possession of the fantastical card. According to Waller, it's an extreme challenge that will reap vast rewards for the felonious Task Force X -- including perhaps even early release from Belle Reve. Traveling in a ramshackle motor home, the Squad must face off in battle after battle against long-standing enemies. And then, adding insult to injury (and there's lots of that), they have to deal with betrayal in their own ranks.
Is it any good?
Hyper-mayhem, drawn and executed with panache, along with a streamlined story in which all the villains are on a quest for one "treasure," keep this heavily populated story on track. Lots of biting humor and cultural in-jokes somewhat mitigate the graphic violence, but DC and Warner Bros. Animation never lose sight of their action-packed prize. Male and female heroes and bad guys share the stage more or less equally, and it's definitely both ethnically and species "diverse." One might ask why Tara Strong's Harley Quinn has to have such a grating voice, but it does an excellent job of humanizing the sound of a knife scraping a plate, so there's that. Grownups and mature teens who look to DC for animated gore, gunshot holes in the head, bullet casings in the thousands, and blood escaping from the head's every orifice will definitely find a lot to like here. But, as always, parents should execute caution. Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is way too violent, sexual, and profane for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss the violence in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay. Why is it important to be aware of the impact of violence on kids while making a decision about what films are appropriate for different age groups? What is "desensitization" to violence? Why is it a societal danger?
What is an "antihero" in literature and film? Why are antiheroes sometimes more interesting that straight-up heroes? What character strengths must be present in such a flawed individual to keep him or her likable and keep audiences rooting for the antihero?
What's the meaning of the expression "honor among thieves"? Which members of Task Force X displayed such honor and were more sympathetic? Which did not? Were their betrayals excusable or forgivable? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: April 10, 2018
- Cast: Christian Slater, Vanessa Williams, Billy Brown
- Director: Sam Liu
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence throughout, sexual content, brief graphic nudity, and some drug material.
- Last updated: November 15, 2019
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