James Gunn was hired by DC Comics and Warner Bros. Pictures to all-but-remake the disastrous 2016 “Suicide Squad” only two years after it’s critical debacle. It seemed like a mad proposition. What Warner Bros. wanted was clear enough: a ragtag team of anti-(super)heroes, a la Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” What it got was a schizophrenic take that zoomed between David Ayer’s original ugly dourness and a tone-deaf comedy added in by committee. But Gunn’s subsequent not-exactly-a-sequel revived the brand, revealing how DC Films could find their way out of Marvel’s uber successful, but Disney-inflected shadow — by leaning into Tarantino-esque violence and a hard “R” rating. Gunn’s singular vision also earned him “Peacemaker:” a John Cena-lead HBO Max adventure that includes all the dirty, wacky antics of the film that spawned it. Gunn’s singular vision also earned him “Peacemaker,” a John Cena-lead HBO Max adventure that includes all the dirty, wacky antics of the film that spawned it, drawn out into an eight-hour series that is both as delightful as it is utterly unnecessary. A white dude whose ugly ignorance is only dwarfed by his utterly misplaced bravado isn’t most people’s idea of the leading face of a franchise (“WandaVision’s” clever, all-ages friendly meditation on TV this series is not.) In trying to have it both ways, “Peacemaker” ultimately tones down some of what made “The Suicide Squad” feel so fresh and daring, resulting in a show that doesn’t quite pack the full fist-in-your-face punch the set-up promises. At least on paper, “Peacemaker” has the markers of a prestige TV drama, with Gunn writing all eight episodes himself and serving as showrunner. But prestige seems an odd word to apply to this bizarrely violent, semi gross-out, happily rude series that revels in shocking viewers with long strings of obscene epithets, desiccated bodies of bikini-clad would-be murderers, and Cena — clad only in tighty-whities — performing karaoke into a personal massager. Cena, who played Peacemaker in the movie to great effect, looks every inch the former WWE wrestler here. However, unlike Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson, who made the same leap from ring to A-list, Cena's performance isn’t about charm. He rather seems to be aiming for a self-depreciation so intense it borders on self-humiliation. His over-developed frame is the regular butt of jokes, as is his view of the world, which the show sums up repeatedly as “I’m committed to peace, no matter how many people I have to kill to get it.” The film initially set up Peacemaker as the major villain of the “Suicide Squad” grou . . . read the full article here.