January 31, 2022

CABLE | Keeping the 'Peacemaker' – John Cena Tastes It

"Eat peace, motherf*ckers!"
John Cena Freddie Stroma James Gunn | DC Peacemaker | Crave HBO Max
Warner Bros. Television / DC Films
Wrestler turned actor John Cena reprises his standout The Suicide Squad role as a sadistically twisted riff on the patriotism of the Captain America archetype in the James Gunn-created television series spin-off, Peacemaker. Filmed in Vancouver and based on the somewhat obscure DC Comics superhero, the show picks up right after the film where the eponymous character was supposedly left for dead after betraying our ragtag team of anti-hero mercenaries.

An always affable Cena is just so totally game and ready to do anything Gunn's wild mind can dream up including a comically violent fight scene in his tighty-whities set to hair metal's greatest hits. Cena's toxically macho Christopher Smith is hilarious in his sort of pathetic deadpan idiocy while also revealing an underlying sense of internal conflict doubting his murderous actions—not totally unlike Gunn's other superhero riff, the nasty 2010 pitch-black indie comedy Super.

Surrounded by talented but less famous actors like Danielle Brooks and Jennifer Holland, reprising her role as the gruff Harcourt, as the reformed criminal's government handlers, the cast is quirky but tough in very amusing, complementary ways. Even the show's clearly more modest production budget and slimmed-down action feel fittingly appropriate to the looser combat missions focused on a D-list character injected with some maniac sensibilities.

Gunn's unhinged vision of a superhero operative translates well to the small-screen from episode to episode. There's just so much energy and style with a lot of clever fun, especially how it joyfully mocks the title character as a sexist and racist caricature with alt-right deep state conspiracy theorist tendencies thanks to his truly awful white supremacist father played by Robert Patrick.

Peacemaker's eight-episode first season is available to stream weekly on Crave in Canada (and on HBO Max in the U.S.).

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / Polygon

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