Studio: DreamWorks Studios / Paramount Pictures
US Rating: Rated R for strong violence and some language
Film Length: 124 Mins
Video: 1080P High Definition 16X9 - 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, and Spanish
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Review Date: September 19, 2010
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Upon its release on September 26, 2007, The Peacemaker failed to ignite the action-movie loving audience and had to settle for merely a moderately successful run (when international grosses are considered). It was released at a stage in George Clooney’s career when he was clearly trying to explore roles and genres that might best suit him, perhaps seeking ways to capitalize on his popularity from E.R. The Peacemaker is cushioned between Batman & Robin and Out of Sight, both films that sought to test genre-waters, and both testing grounds for identifying the kind of actor he would become. Clearly the action star was an uncomfortable and unpopular role for him, while the more thoughtful, drama and thriller genre worked immeasurably better. Nicole Kidman too was about to enter a similar stage in her career when this film was released, although she clearly had more cinematic experience under behind her. It could be said that she is still attempting to find the right tone of cinema for her talents, reaching highs with films like The Hours and The Others, while experiencing lows from Bewitched and The Invasion. Clooney on the other hand has experienced something of a revelation in his career, both in front of and behind the camera, and is on his way to living out quite the distinguished career with some top-notch accomplishments under his belt (Good Night and Good Luck, Up in the Air, etc.).
The Film: 3.5 out of 5
Remember Mimi Leder? One of the rare female directors operating in Hollywood, having directed The Peacemaker, Deep Impact, and Pay it Forward within a three year period before returning to directing in television. Leder, a rare female director in cinema, was a hopeful sign who, along with Katherine Bigelow, brought a capable dramatic edge to action films. Leder helped turn Deep Impact into the respectable, dramatically engaging ‘end of the world’ action film opposite Michael Bay’s similarly themed but thin Armageddon, and gave The Peacemaker an thrilling edge (though it did not translate to box office success).
The story begins with a train in Russia carrying ten nuclear warheads on their way to be dismantled under U.S. sponsored supervision, when it is hijacked and crashed. One of the warheads is detonated to hide traces of the theft and inhibit the inevitable investigation. The U.S. response to the crisis places a relatively new-to-the-role Dr. Julia Kelly (Nicole Kidman) in charge of research and analysis, and partners her with a military liaison, Colonel Thomas Devoe (George Clooney) who together must work to unravel the mystery of what happened to the nuclear weapons, and why.
The Peacemakerunfolds with escalating thrills in mind, but unfortunately becomes uneven during the first 45 minutes. The lengthy opening sequence, over 12 minutes, is concerned entirely with the initial ‘crime’ that ignites the plot. It’s a good set up and somewhat brave for withholding the two leading actors for such a long period of time, but it plays like a heist movie and works on an action level. Between the opening act and the 45th minute, we are introduced to Nicole Kidman’s ‘in over her head’ character, Dr. Kelly, appointed to be point person on the U.S. response and investigation into the Nuclear weapon threat. We are also introduced to Clooney’s character (Col. Devoe), a cock-sure and capable military man with a penchant for acting with apparent disregard and conviviality, but simmers with a serious and intellectual appreciation for matters – your basic 1990’s George Clooney. This period of the film is somewhat idle. Though the time taken to develop a villain with some complexity is welcome, it feels slow. The film advances a plot based on the conflict of that time (in the late 1990s), the decent into conflict and war between Serbia and Albania (the Kosovo conflict which also served as story ground for Behind Enemy Lines). The making of a ‘villain’ from that sad conflict is an interesting and somewhat controversial one. The top Serbian actors were approached for the role of Duan Gavri (portrayed here by Marcel Lure) but they all declined.
Performances are all fine, though Clooney’s persona and delivery are not always consistent and only when he is more serious and stoic does he fit. Kidman is likeable and strong, and Marcel Lure as the terrorist succeeds in evoking some level of sympathy, though it is dwarfed by the insanity of his actions.
The final act, despite disappointing at the very end, is the highlight of the film. It is filled with keen dramatic and skilled action-oriented storytelling that inches with increases tension, layering moment upon moment, thrillingly and expertly. The climactic sequence achieves highly not with explosions and bullets, but with a gripping tautness - the near misses, almost, and incredibly close - and stands as perhaps the film’s highlight. While there are other action sequences, including a high-speed car chase through a European city and a grander sequence that I won’t spoil here.
The Video: 3.5 out of 5
The video results for The Peacemaker are both good and not so good. The level of detail is superb in some scenes and the improvement over the DVD release from a number of years ago is considerable – mainly during the bright daytime scenes of New York and on the border with Iran. The colors seem to be on par with action films from the late 90’s – relatively balanced between light and dark, leaning more toward the lighter end (as evidenced by the khaki colors, white shirts, etc.). There are, however, some issues with the image, especially during the night or darker sequences, and when visual effects are combined with those darker scenes, the age of the film and imperfections of the effects work becomes obvious.
The Sound: 4 out of 5
Paramount Pictures delivers The Peacemaker for the first time on bu-ray with a fairy robust English DTS-HD Master audio as well as a French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital audio options. The channels are free of issues, and the bass is handily given a work out, especially during the car chase and helicopter sequences. Personally though it is Hans Zimmer’s highly effective score, which invokes regional sounds and a pulsing, increasingly agitating score – accomplished in five suites on the commercial score CD release – is the highlight of the audio, with its raucous synths and churning beats.
The Extras: 2 out of 5
Stunt Footage(5:35): A quick look at a couple of the film’s action sequences.
From the Cutting Room Floor…(3:00): What I thought would be a selection of deleted scenes turns out to be a quite enjoyable gaff reel featuring the two principle players
Theatrical Trailer (HD)
Weaknesses in the script and the confluence of Russian, Serbian, Chechnyian, Kosovo, United Nations, and American conflicts, politics, places and names, may have been just a little too much for audiences. The Peacemaker was the first film released by the then newly created DreamWorks SKG, and must have made the principle owners – Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen – a little nervous. The product of Mimi Leder’s solid direction, Clooney’s rough around the edges, but promising cinematic experience, Nicole Kidman’s capable ‘strong woman in a male’s world’ portrayal, and Michael Schiffer’s problematic screenplay produce an uneven film, with espionage, terrorism, action and ethics unequally mixed creating, in the end, only an average thriller. In aggregate, however, The Peacemaker is an entertaining, thrilling, and reasonably solid film, and the chemistry between Clooney and Kidman is better than expected. This blu-ray release is mostly worth upgrading to for those who are fans of the film.
Overall 3.5 out of 5