John Cena is now rightly considered a Hollywood hot property. His two outings as DC Comics anti-hero in both James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and HBO Max hit Peacemaker has showcased Cena’s ability to flex his acting muscles. Now John Cena’s family comedy Playing With Fire is having a resurgence on Netflix, sitting pretty in the top five of globally watched films on the streaming service.
Playing With Fire sees John Cena joined by a stellar cast, with actors such as Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu) and John Leguizamo (John Wick) as firefighters tasked with saving a trio of kids. Cena’s Superintendent Jake Carson and company quickly find out that fighting fires is nothing compared to the task of babysitting. You can see the trailer for the 2019 movie below.
Playing With Fire is certainly deserving of the underrated tag it’s labeled with here. A short trip over to critical aggregator Rotten Tomatoes shows that the world of film press didn’t take to kindly to John Cena’s family comedy, with the film receiving a lowly critic’s consensus of 33% based on 75 reviews. However, audiences on the site have been far kinder, giving the movie a 77% average audience score based on over 2500 ratings.
The movie’s poor critical reception appears to be reflected in its showing at the box office. On top of a reported budget of approximately $29million, the film only took a worldwide gross of $69 million. Such is the beauty of Netflix, the John Cena film is getting a second chance at success and appears to be making good of this chance, perhaps the audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes is the seed that led to such popularity in the arena of home cinema?
Playing With Fire goes to show how important the audience element is in movies, and also shows how important star power is in pulling audiences into Netflix. In the midst of the streaming giant’s early struggles in 2022, stars such as John Cena appearing on the platform will come as a welcome relief. And nobody can dispute that John Cena is a bonafide Hollywood star.
Cena of course shot to prominence in the arena of wrestling entertainment as one of the central figures in the WWE. As well as this, he is a well-documented champion of the Make A Wish foundation. John Cena holds the record for most wishes granted by a single individual for the foundation, with 650 wishes granted and counting. So not only did Cena exercise his rise to stardom via WWE, but he also demonstrated remarkable character and goodwill.
As a result of John Cena’s good nature and hard work, who would begrudge him his newfound success in the world of Hollywood? Cena used WWE to test himself in other realms of entertainment, be it rap music or indeed, acting. As an actor, Cena has demonstrated an affinity for comedy, such as in Playing With Fire or Blockers. Perhaps it was this ability to slide seamlessly into the world of comedy movies that earnt Cena is shot in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad as misguided mercenary Peacemaker. The Suicide Squad then spun off into Cena’s biggest acting vehicle to date, HBO Max’s Peacemaker. The show proved a massive success and earnt itself a second series as a result.
Thanks to Peacemaker, John Cena has now become a Warner Bros darling, as he has also been announced to star in the animated/live-action hybrid Coyote Vs Acme movie. This project is also another James Gunn collaboration, with Gunn will be producing the film. As if an emerging new DC Comics franchise and a role in extending the lore of a Looney Tunes legend isn’t enough, John Cena also finds himself entrenched in the Fast & Furious franchise, appearing in the ninth Fast film as Vin Diesel’s on-screen brother.
When Playing With Fire floundered at the box office and with critics, John Cena’s current success may have seemed unlikely, but in Peacemaker, Cena proved that with the right role an actor can flourish. The news of Playing With Fire now resonating well among fans is strong proof of Cena’s stardom, and will surely be satisfying not only to Cena but to all the cast and crew of the film, that their work producing Playing With Fire was well worth it.
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