After a hilarious debut in The Suicide Squad (the good James Gunn one, not the pile of garbage starring Will Smith), John Cena returns as Peacemaker on HBO Max. While the character was great as a supporting player in a movie, could he work as a lead in a prestige series? The answer was a resounding yes! To review and discuss Peacemaker season 1, I asked Tal Blevins (former IGN editor) and Paul Semel (former Maxim, Bikini) to join me for a very special episode of RPadTV 3000.
Tal Blevins, Paul Semel, and I talk about our favorite characters, scenes, music, and aspects of Peacemaker season 1. While we all loved the series and were floored by John Cena’s performance, we had different takes on it. For example, Paul and Tal believe that this was a star-making performance for Jennifer Holland. While I enjoyed what she did in the series, I wasn’t as impressed by her as my two esteemed (and smarter) colleagues were.
Suicide Squad is Warner Bros.’ latest attempt at breathing life into its DC Comics cinematic universe. The movie has been getting a lot of attention, and most of it isn’t the kind the studio wants. Several friends and colleagues that I respect hated the movie. I didn’t think it was that bad. It certainly wasn’t a great superhero movie, but I’d watch it again on cable. Compared to this year’s superhero movies, I found it much better than Batman v Superman (aka Murderous Batman vs. Mopey-Ass Superman), but not nearly as good as Deadpool or Captain America: Civil War.
Having said that, I don’t feel like writing a proper movie review. Instead, I’m going to rate the Suicide Squad team members (as well as the puppet master and villains) individually. Let’s do this!
[Activate your spoiler shields, please.]
Deadshot (Will Smith) F: For me, Will Smith’s portrayal of Deadshot was the worst part of Suicide Squad. I’m a big fan of the character — both from the Suicide Squad and the Secret Six books. Smith’s performance was incredibly lazy and uninspired. He acted like Will Smith instead of Floyd Lawton. The guy that played Deadshot on Arrow did a much better job with the character. It’s amazing that a huge Hollywood star was considerably outperformed by a television actor on a CW show — a frickin’ CW show!
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) B+: Robbie is unbelievably sexy and gets an extra half-grade for that. Heterosexual male bias aside, she was one of the best parts of Suicide Squad. She did a fine job at portraying Harley as equal parts keenly intelligent and mentally unstable. While the accent was similar to the one she used in The Wolf of Wall Street, it totally worked for the character. I appreciated how she turned the severity of the accent up and down situationally throughout the movie. The biggest problem I had with her character had nothing to do with the actress, but how she was written and directed. Super Harley — the one that deftly dispatched supernatural beings with her fists and a baseball bat — threw me for a loop. When the hell did Harley become psychotic Wonder Woman?!?
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) A: Suicide Squad’s government puppet master was outstanding. Davis completely owned this role, serving up a Waller that was razor sharp, manipulative, and terrifying. She left you with a feeling of, “You do not want to f*ck with this woman.” From the comfort of the other side of the screen, it was fun enjoying her cold and calculating portrayal. Waller is one of my favorite characters in the DCU and I was thrilled that David brought her to life so perfectly.
The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) B-: Again, my heterosexual maleness requires me to give an extra half-grade boost to Miss Delevingne for being astonishingly beautiful. She also gets another half-grade for coming from a wealthy family. In my dreams, Cara Delevingne makes me a kept man. In Suicide Squad, she was a little bit silly. She played the victim, June Moon, well enough. As the Enchantress, the director had her doing some ridiculous things. While I was mostly enjoying watching her gyrate like a stripper as she was casting spells, there was a point where I thought, “Come on man. You’re just exploiting her hotness.” Still, she’s gorgeous, she’s rich, and she has incredible eyebrows; it’s tough for me to criticize anything she does. #truth
The Joker (Jared Leto) B+: Several of my friends have bashed Leto’s performance as the Joker, but I loved it. He gave the Clown Prince of Crime a modern and edgy feel. I found Leto’s Joker much scarier and more realistic than Ledger’s Joker. I’d love to see more of him in a proper Batman movie.
Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) C: I’m actually not sure what to do with this grade. I am of the opinion that Jai Courtney sucks and has the best management team in Hollywood. I’m baffled that he gets so many big roles with such little talent. My friend Solomon pointed out that Captain Boomerang sucks in the comics (many writers have portrayed Boomer as a joke among DC villains). From that perspective, hiring an actor that sucks to play a villain that sucks could be considered inspired casting. However, I’m certain that the studio didn’t think that deeply. Courtney was surprisingly acceptable in this limited role, which is probably his best “acting” to date.
Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) B: I’ve never seen this actor before, but left the movie impressed by his performance. He did a good job of playing the straight-laced protagonist surrounded by insane people. His role might of been the trickiest of all, because Suicide Squad is all about letting the villains shine. He had his moments when appropriate, but otherwise let the baddies do their thing.
On a side note, Kinnaman kind of looks like WWE Edge. Whenever Flag popped up onscreen I thought, “You think you know me.”
Katana (Karen Fukuhara) D+: As a Katana fan, this performance was disappointing. She added nothing to Suicide Squad. Take out all of her scenes and the movie is pretty much the same. You’re not given a reason to care about Katana, so when she had her big crying scene, it felt empty. She added nothing of consequence to the movie, which is a shame because Tatsu is a cool character. Similar to movie Deadshot, movie Katana is inferior to CW Arrow Katana.
Diablo (Jay Hernandez) C+: I liked this character up until the end of the movie. He was fun as the super-powerful but reluctant villain enlisted to do good. I’m not sure how, but hours (in movie time) of doing nothing and whining caused him to think of the other Suicide Squad members as family. Uh…okay. Expectedly, he got all sentimental and sacrificial, but his face turn lacked weight.
Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) C-: The character looked really cool, so he gets an extra half-grade on behalf of the makeup team. However, he was almost as useless as Katana. He was instrumental in a scene that required swimming…and that’s about it.
Slipknot (Adam Beach) Incomplete: I love that the movie played on Slipknot’s mishap with the implants from the comics (but in a much deadlier way), with Captain Boomerang as the impetus. In the immortal words of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, “Bwahahahahahaha!!!”