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Featured Blu-ray Review: The Peacemaker

September 17th, 2010

The Peacemaker - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

The Peacemaker came out in 1997, an awkward time in the world of Hollywood bad guys. It had been nearly a decade since the fall of the Soviet Union and it was no longer relevant to use them as generic bad guys, so they needed to diversify. The threat of loose nukes from the former Soviet Union appeared to be the perfect villain and this film tried to capture that threat and turn it into an action pack blockbuster. That didn't exactly work out. However, more than a decade later, it is possible that the film has aged well. It is also possible that it is even less relevant today.

The Movie

The film begins with one unnamed man being assassinated by another unnamed man, whom he knew.

We cut to a Russian military base where a small fraction of Russia's nuclear arsenal is being dismantled as part of the SALT II treaty. However, not everyone is happy with this move on Russia's part. In fact, one particular general plans to do something about it. Hijacking a shipment of ten nuclear warheads on their way to be dismantled, he sets one off and makes it look like an accident while stealing the other nine.

Of course, you can't set off a nuclear weapon without attracting the world's attention and not everyone believes the accidental detonation cover story. Dr. Julia Kelly, an expert on nuclear weapons within the White House, is one of these skeptical people. She understands that with all of the safeguards the warhead would have to be detonated intentionally and she believes it was a terrorist attack, which quickly gets her put in charge of the government response.

Meanwhile we look in on Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Devoe, who is in a bit of trouble due to his unconventional behavior stopping the sale of nerve gas. (It involved a bar brawl, a $5000 bar tab, and an SUV being given to the teenage daughter of a Russian military man.) In Dr. Kelly's briefing, he interrupts a number of times and gives his theory that this wasn't a terrorist attack, but a smokescreen to cover up the theft of the remaining nuclear warheads. Given his keen observations of the evidence, he's made Dr. Kelly's military liaison... Tension.

You can pretty much guess what happens from here on. There's a bit of political intrigue, there's a bit of action, there's speeches about justice from terrorists, etc. (You know the ones. "You killed X, so I'm going to blow up Y!")

When The Peacemaker came out in 1997, it was a bit of a dud at the box office. Earning $41 million domestically on a $50 million production budget it hardly a strong outcome. And watching it 13 years later and it is hard to argue with that result. It is competently made, but that's about as enthusiastic as I can get with the praise. The political intrigue feels a bit dated, but worth checking out. The chemistry between Nicole Kidman and George Clooney is barely an asset, and not enough to overcome other weaknesses in the movie. The action scenes are lively, but again not exactly awe inspiring.

It's a movie you can watch once and enjoy for two hours, but then not remember much of it the next day.

The Extras

The only extras on the DVD are less than six minutes of stunt footage and three minutes of interviews interspersed with outtakes. That's it for the extras, and they are not even in high definition.

Moving onto the High Definition transfer, it's mixed. Some scenes are a little too dark and details get absorbed into the shadows. Other times the colors really pop on screen and details are as sharp as one could expect from a film that 13 years old. Quite frankly, I wasn't expecting the studio to go all out remastering the film from the original masters. The audio is likewise solid, but not spectacular. There's good use of surround sound speakers, while the bass gets a bit of a workout.

It is shovelware, however, and at close to $20, it's too expense for shovelware.

The Verdict

The Peacemaker was the first film from Dreamworks SKG and that makes it a rather important part of film history. However, that place in film history overshadows the actual quality of the film, which is nothing more than average. It's worth checking out, but the Blu-ray is only worth a rental.

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