George Clooney grapples with dicey U.S./Russia/Serbia relations in the gripping “The Peacemaker,” but, since he spends a lot of time shooting at people in public squares and bribing officials, you could say he has an unorthodox approach to diplomacy.
Clooney (a doer) and Nicole Kidman (a thinker) play officials who crisscross the globe attempting to recapture stolen nuclear bombs before terrorists set off the ultimate kaboom.
“The Peacemaker” takes place over a few days during which Clooney and Kidman keep alert with the aid of Stay-Awake pills and, although you won’t need Stay-Awake pills, some What’s-Going-On pills might be in order.
One action scene after another, “The Peacemaker” consistently emphasizes plot complications over character. Neither Clooney nor Kidman show up until more than 20 minutes into the movie, by which time we’ve tried to make sense of an exciting but baffling train robbery involving a bunch of people we don’t know and suspect we’ll never see again. It’s an off-putting introduction to the film, since it gives us no one to root for or care about.
Intriguingly, “The Peacemaker” never does tell us much about Clooney or Kidman, but it gives us a bad guy we can relate to. The villain doesn’t emerge until the second half of the film (another oddity of the film’s structure), but when he does, he’s a complex figure who has specific reasons for what he’s doing.
As sympathetically played by Marcel Iures, he’s scary precisely because the movie makes the effort to understand his misguided motivations.
Iures is the focus of the bravura climax of “The Peacemaker,” which tracks Kidman and Clooney’s efforts to locate him in a crowded city and to dismantle a bomb. Set against Hans Zimmer’s excellent score (pounding, with just the right amount of bombast), it’s almost as good as the movie’s other set piece, a will-Clooney-get-the-nukes-off-the-truck-before-it-crashes? nail-biter.
“The Peacemaker” is needlessly complicated, but the tone and pace are exactly right and, once we begin to learn a little about Iures’ character, something very interesting happens.
For most of the movie, we’ve known who the good guys were, but we’ve been confused about the bad guys. But the last half-hour turns our beliefs upside down and reminds us that separating the bad guys from the good guys is never as easy as it seems.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “The Peacemaker” Location: Newport, Valley Mall, Post Falls and Showbow Cinema Credits: Directed by Mimi Leder, starring George Clooney, Nicole Kidman Rating: R