Peacemaker Review: HBO Max’s Suicide Squad Series Let John Cena Kill People

“Eat in peace, you bastards!”

It is the humorous hypocritical battle cry of the Peacemaker (John Cena), who Guardians of the Galaxy Director James Gunn describes as a “Superheroes, superheroes and the biggest bag in the world.” Peacemaker is the main character of HBO Max’s hard R-rated series People of Peace Gunn .’s 2021 DC superhero film series, spin-offs and sequels Suicide Squad, People of Peace follows the film’s aftermath on Peacemaker (aka Christopher Smith), who is no longer in prison and has now been assigned a team to help him on his quest for peace (“No matter how many flock men, women and children” must die in the process).

As established in Suicide Squad, that team consists of two subordinates Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assigned the Peacemaker assignment as punishment for defying her: the feisty tech guy John Economos (Steve Agee) and the surprisingly mean girl Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland). Join this ragtag group of inappropriate people – some may call them some kind of suicide squad – is rookie Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks); Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), a “superhero” is even more violent and deranged than Peacemaker; and leader Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), who is famous for his bloodlust from his black work. Along the way, the team must work together to defeat alien beings known as “butterflies” – and also have white domination and toxic masculinity.

With Suicide Squad advertised as coming from the “beautiful mind” of James Gunn, notably People of Peace It wasn’t just a TV project that Gunn made his name as an executive producer and stepped out of it. Gunn wrote all eight episodes of the series, and directed all but three. People of Peace purely the vision of James Gunn who is, in many ways, a superhero East & Down. (The co-creator of that show, Jody Hill, also directed a People of Peace episode, follow along with the show’s tone and sense of humor.)

The entire Peacemaker team sit in the booth of a family restaurant in the still from episode 1

Photo: HBO Max

Suicide SquadThe violence continues in the series, with careful attention being paid to realistic effects such as the fact that a corpse in the background continues to bleed. Salty language and gratuitous nudity by women also contribute to the R rating. Given its style, it’s fair to question whether the series is mocking the sensibility of suitable teenage boys. water or not, as characters like Peacemaker and Vigilante might suggest that’s true, or whether it’s tilted in their favor. A lot of evidence points to the former, with the way the series handles Peacemaker’s growth potential. Gunn seems to be thrilled with threading the thread of sparking undue exploitation, while at the same time making the most of its benefits. This approach allows the entire cast to have enjoyable performances, who strike a fine balance between heavy drama with cunning, teenage humor.

Even more Suicide Squad, Peacemaker feels like the culmination of what Gunn did with the 2010 movie super, with vigilantes (in their minds) on a mission to peace and clean the streets, has now come to life with larger budgets and established (despite) comic book characters. though little known). Gunn established Peacemaker and especially Vigilante as more efficient versions of Rainn Wilson’s The Crimson Bolt from super, though today, Gunn is more concerned with resolving the moral and spatial ambiguity of his anti-heroes.

That particular focus on Peacemaker’s intentions makes him attractive to follow later Suicide Squad, now he must recalculate past actions that most people would consider downright villainous. He’s at a crossroads in his life as a self-proclaimed superhero. As charming as John Cena, the original idea was that Gunn put more time and effort into focusing on “douchebag alt-right“The serial killer with a warped sense of peace doesn’t seem like a worthwhile goal. But the series shows Gunn invested in interrogating and investigating how people adopt extreme and harmful beliefs, and how they can change, not only alone, but with the help of others. .

Vigilante and Peacemaker sit in silence from Peacemaker

Photo: HBO Max

Where the series gets a bit messy is its villains. Gunn has no problem admitting as soon as possible that the season’s Big Bad is a 100% reread of Suicide Squadbig bad: The series’ Project Butterfly is named for an alien butterfly villain. Gunn obviously wants to reveal that right away, because the newest body-snatching villain isn’t necessarily the point of the series or its first installment. But there is a problem that Gunn refuses to disclose whether the butterflies are actually hurting their hosts by living on them. That doesn’t happen until very late in the season – the characters don’t even ask questions.

It would be fine if this wasn’t the kind of thing the audience would ask. But Peacemaker lives in a “shoot first, question later” world (if any), more concerned with how cool the violence looks than if it’s necessary. In Suicide Squad, Gunn helps the group reduce their curiosity or look into their situation more effectively, where the group tries to save Rick Flag from his kidnappers, and ends up massacring many innocent people. That gag had only a relatively short effect over a two-hour movie. But prolonging the same thoughtless act over several hours-long episodes, and not considering it until the metaphorical eleventh hour, will have no small effect on the story and its characters. it.

The show doesn’t fully forgive Peacemaker for his past actions, on or off screen. He continues to be the misinformed idiot he’s been since his introduction, even as he’s trying to get better. But it intentionally included uglier people around to definitely make him look less ugly. While Gunn clearly believes Peacemaker has the ability to grow, he also shows a foil in Auggie Smith (Robert Patrick), Peacemaker’s abusive, unrepentant white supremacist father. Gunn confidently portrays him as completely incapable of change, even though his son is clearly desperate about it. And then there’s the absolute psychopathic killer Vigilante, who murders indiscriminately even through minor misdeeds, and has no understanding or insight. (Vigilante, however, draws the line in clear white supremacy, because Auggie is the worst of the worst.)

Like every other movie and show of the past few years, People of Peace it’s ultimately about navigating trauma – not just the consequences of Suicide Squad, but the pain of being raised by a man like Auggie, and struggling to be someone a villain can be proud of.

Robert Patrick and John Cena in stills from Peacemaker

Photo: HBO Max

Cena is given an important and heavy document to work with, as Gunn tries to unpack the Peacemaker character and his sad state of mind. He has the ability to pull it off, even when he’s being scored in chic ’80s metal. (“There’s no wrong time to play” is a big part of the game. People of PeaceThe features range from the catchy opening sequence – which shows Gunn actually getting to work on a TV show and not just an eight-hour movie – to the soundtrack’s almost unchanged soundtrack.) He’s proven himself. demonstrated that he could sell character comedy, and it was clear that Cena had a special ability to improvise. But the key to this series has always been in his ability to manage the forces of emotional gravity, which will make the character more than just a joke.

And that’s what allows Cena to find the heart of scenes where he sadly kicks a strand of hair, or makes an emotional connection with a CGI bald eagle. (Eagly, actually a highlight of the series.) He evokes genuine, heartfelt reactions, and not just in the scenes where he’s alone. (Or with CGI’s creativity.) His sober scenes with Brooks and Holland have audiences longing for him to play the role together, even when it’s clear how many things are standing in his way. As the season progressed and the Peacemaker team spent more and more time with the guy, they realized that as hard as you can, it’s hard not to feel for him. And it’s certainly hard not to want to kick him and his pet eagle.

The first three episodes of People of Peace premieres Thursday, January 13 on HBO Max. From there, the season drops to weekly episodes.

https://www.polygon.com/reviews/22867078/peacemaker-review-hbo-max Peacemaker Review: HBO Max’s Suicide Squad Series Let John Cena Kill People

Aila Slisco

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