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Festivale Spring 1997

Poster, The Peacemaker (c) DreamWorks SKGThe Peacemaker

Spielberg, Katzenberg & Geffen’s new studio, Dreamwanks... sorry Dreamworks SKG has been hyped more than cigarettes used to be. It is big bucks Hollywood to the max, as distrait from reality as any idea Michael Jackson ever had. Smooth, seamless, and totally lacking in character, much like the reupholstered faces of ageing Hollywood starlets of both sexes.

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SKG could well stand for Some Kinda Generic. The only interesting SKG project I’ve seen, is Mouse Hunt – a comedy starring Nathan Lane and Lee Evans and even that looks like a cross between Tom & Jerry and Home Alone, which may be how it was pitched to the studio. As usual with Spielberg-related products, SKG’s output leaves the creativity to the technicians.

The Peacemaker’s no exception. Clooney is Thomas Devoe, a generic nonconformist army intelligence officer. Nicole Kidman is Julia Kelly, the acting head of the White House’s Nuclear Smuggling Group. A Russian General steals ten decommissioned nukes from a moving train in a trick I once saw in an old episode of George Peppard’s series Banacek. He then blows up the train with the remaining nukes aboard just to cover his tracks. Nasty bastard, this one, but he only lives to halfway through the movie, anyway. The nukes go off in a very effective scene that suddenly transforms into Nicole Kidman’s subaquatic torso as she swims her laps.

This is a generic action-adventure flick with top-notch special-effects and production values. Bratislava substitutes for Sarajevo, Vienna and the church at the end of the film. The characterisation is minimal, except for that of the villain, who is twenty times more interesting than the heroes. Change a few things and this could’ve been a middle of the road Timothy Dalton era James Bond film.

The ending is seriously dumb. Blowing up a wad of plutonium with conventional explosives is something of a problem for everyone within a number of kilometres. Bits of highly poisonous and radioactive material being scattered around New York turns Manhattan into Chernobyl. But of course, Clooney just ends up with a bandaid on his forehead and Kidman swims her laps as if nothing’s happened. Even her cuts and abrasions from being hurled through a stained glass window by an explosion vanish from her milky hide.

Dreamworks, indeed. Maybe it was all a dream.

Terry Frost 18-11-97

See also: One Fine Day (with George Clooney).

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Just the facts:

Title: The Peacemaker (1997)
Written by: Andrew Cockburn & Leslie Cockburn (book One Point Safe); Michael Schiffer
Directed by: Mimi Leder 
Produced by: Andrew Cockburn (co-producer); Leslie Cockburn (co-producer); Michael Grillo (executive); Pat Kehoe (co-producer); Branko Lustig; Laurie MacDonald (executive); Walter F. Parkes John Wells co-executive)
Edited by David Rosenbloom  
Director of Photography: Dietrich Lohmann 

The Players: George Clooney, Nicole Kidman
For session times of current films, use the cinema listings on the Movie links page. For scheduled release dates, see the coming attractions section.

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