The Peacemaker

on September 26, 1997 by Kim Williamson
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   DreamWorks SKG, the studio led by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, makes itself proud with a successful launch with "The Peacemaker." Although the action genre has recently seemed to be played out, the producers here--longtime Amblin-eers Walter Parkes and Branko Lustig--made a decision that pays off in spades onscreen: They tapped a woman for the director's chair. Although TV director Mimi Leder ("ER") likewise is making her theatrical debut, it's an assured one. From the opening sequence--a train ride through Russian countryside (with all aboard not knowing they are doomed), shot with a seriousness of purpose and attention to humanity that recalls David Lean's effort on "Dr. Zhivago")--"The Peacemaker" places itself outside the orbit of actioners more interested in smirky jokes and calisthenic explosions.
   Still, this is an action film, so the plotline--a no-nonsense U.S. intelligence operative ("Batman & Robin's" George Clooney) and the new head of the White House's nuclear anti-smuggling group ("The Portrait of a Woman's" Nicole Kidman) go on a mission to retrieve stolen warheads--is effectively intense, if nothing earthshaking. A careful choice of malefactors--a Bosnian diplomat (Romanian actor Marcel Iures) who wants to make Americans suffer the wages of war for which he feels they bear some responsibility)--is part and parcel of the filmmakers' serious approach, but in the end it's unnecessary, given the genre's limitations; this is hardly "Before the Rain" territory. Starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. Directed by Mimi Leder. Written by Michael Schiffer. Produced by Walter Parkes and Branko Lustig. A DreamWorks release. Action. Rated R for strong violence and some language. Running time: 122 min
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