Living A Double Life
Tripwire’s contributing writer Laurence Boyce reviews the latest Warner Bros. DC Animated Movie Deathstroke: Knights And Dragons The Movie…
Deathstroke: Knights And Dragons The Movie
Director: Sung Jin Ahn
Voice Cast: Michael Chiklis , Sasha Alexander, Chris Jai, Faye Mata, Colin Salmon
With a resurgence of popularity over the past few years thanks to a cameo at the end of Justice League and TV storylines in both Arrow and Teen Titans, Deadshot now firmly resides in the upper pantheon of comic book supervillains. While his origin story is perhaps one of cliché (military man is experimented upon, doesn’t take it well and turns into a killing machine), the creation of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez still remains relevant thanks to a characterisation that favoured – for comic books at least – and intriguing moral ambiguity at the heart of his villainous ways. Now Slade Wiilson (yes, Deadpool’s real name is a sly and affectionate dig at the character) has his own DC Animated Universe movie which explores some of these moral ambiguities.
Slade Wilson lives a double life. On the one hand he is a respected business and family man. On the other he is a ruthless mercenary, who will off anyone for the right price. But when he comes against the terror group known as H.I.V.E his two worlds collide. After an initial confrontation which results in his family torn apart, Wilson returns to fight the organisation many years later. But the spectres of the past and his family will return to haunt him as he heads to one final showdown. Will Deathstroke – and indeed Wilson – be able to survive?
Knights and Dragons is keen to point out Deathstroke’s internal conflict, torn between doing the right thing whilst feeling the life of a mercenary is the only one for him. He’ll happily invade a foreign country and attack its leader, but as long as the leader is a despot and dictator then everything is fine (though – as someone points out later – the families of all the soldiers he slices through would probably disagree). There’s not much room for subtlety here as he agonises over his life choices while his family are put in constant danger: his son is kidnapped and mutilated, and his wife ups and leaves him only to return years later when a new situation arises. This is – even by comic standards – very melodramatic and soap opera-ish and everything is rather po-faced. There’s very little room for lightness here when the characters alternate between agonising over how difficult life is and killing everything in front of them.
This dark feeling is intensified by the animation style, with the thick clean lines typifying the DCAU universe combining with an anime style (which is especially prevalent during the fight sequences). There’s certainly an adult sensibility with the violence being pretty graphic (lots of blood spatters and people getting visibly sliced in half) and a smattering of naughty language. Even Deathstroke is voiced by Michael Chiklis who brings all his gruffness to the fore. All these elements are slickly done, but does sometimes feel as if it is trying too hard to be dark and introspective.
While it’s a little bit too dour for its own good, there is still some entertainment value to be had in the film and its 90 minute running time passes by enjoyably enough. But Wilson is perhaps better served when he’s part of an ensemble rather than left to his own devices.
The Bluray comes with a interesting little featurette that examines the origins of the character.
Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons: The Movie is available now from Warner Bros Home Entertainment on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally.