There’s a scene early on where our titular character sits down at a bar, next to his attractive co-worker, and she tells him off for being a racist, murderous, piece of shit. He looks taken aback, and reflects on it.
Given my opinion on The Suicide Squad, I just know that Gunn wrote this scene and parts of Peacemaker’s overall story as a means of calling out his haters. It sets the tone for the whole adventure. To me, it says, “I know some of you hate this character, but let me show you why I don’t.” And I have to give credit where credit is due. Peacemaker is a good TV show albeit not without minor nitpicking – not everyone’s acting was stellar, more on that later. I promised my friends I’d do my best, and separate the artist from the art. Like the greats, Roman Polanski, and others. I’d watch, setting my bias aside.
First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoyed John Cena as Christopher ‘Chris’ Smith aka Peacemaker. I watched a bloopers compilation of the show, and at one point Cena replies back to a joke about great actors that he shouldn’t be included. The man sure is humble as his comedy is on point in every scene. In fact, without him, the show wouldn’t nearly have same effect however strong the writing is. He carried the leading role well, and I want to see him in more leading roles rather than supporting. Chukwudi Iwuji was quite good. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing him beforehand. I enjoyed his performance and look forward to seeing more of him.
Now my nitpicking. Jennifer Holland, who keeps hiring her? Still as wooden as the day I saw her all those years ago in Zombie Strippers. She’d pull me out of immersion each time I saw her. And then we have the token character of the somewhat sassy, fat, black woman played by Danielle Brooks (wonderful performance). To Gunn’s credit, despite having to use that trope, it was delightfully done and self aware. I found myself wondering where was this tasteful and smart dialogue, and interaction in the previous movie. And it wasn’t just her, many characters would do something frustrating or idiotic, and the audience would get that feeling of annoyance and then immediately be appeased by dialogue that calls it out right away. It was a rollercoaster of being knowingly played with, that I didn’t want to get off of.
Before I continue, the character of Vigilante was interesting. It is a peculiar choice to make a psychopath the comic relief. It really makes a statement all on its own. This world is so messed up, that the funniest guy is the one that’s most insane. If this was Batman, such a character is the most terrifying. That contrast is called out by Gunn, in a lovely scene between Peacemaker and his elderly neighbor on that age old argument whether Batman should kill. Self awareness of the property source seems to be occurring more and more, and that studios are allowing it, it’s setting up for an interesting time in entertainment.
I’m aware of the similarity between how Vigilante was written and to Ryan Reynolds’s Deadpool. That was obviously intentional. It doesn’t detract from the character or Freddie Stroma’s performance, but a fun little call-out. In fact, I found myself thinking he stole whatever scene he was in. I found him delightfully infectious.
I want to say it was fun to watch Robert Patrick as a villain, but he’s made a career of that. This was no different. His character served only to further Peacemaker’s development, and it was obvious from the first appearance.
Overall, it is an excellent companion piece to accompany The Suicide Squad, and stands strongly on its own. John Cena is quite the comedic force to be reckoned with. James Gunn created a masterpiece for DC’s halls. I recommend this dark adventure, but I still think the character is a murderous, piece of shit.