Released twenty years ago, The Peacemaker (1997) feels twice that old, a soulless thriller with a hollow, pre-9/11 terrorism plot. When a train full of nuclear weapons is hijacked in Russia, it’s up to two people to track down the terrorists: rookie nuclear expert Dr. Julia Kelly (Nicole Kidman) and hotshot loose cannon military intelligence officer Tom Devoe (George Clooney). For some reason, they go into the field together, racing across Europe to stop the nukes from getting into the wrong hands.
The world of The Peacemaker feels so far removed from our current reality that its threats and political atmosphere feel almost quaint. Sadly, its heroes are generic and their rapport is sparkless. Clooney’s Devoe is a cocky, arrogant mansplainer, while Kidman’s Kelly is mostly a cipher; the film banks on a relationship-under-fire chemistry that never materializes. Considering the explosive stakes of the premise, this one is a remarkable dud, thanks to clinical plot machinations and protagonists it’s impossible to care about. The most interesting thing about the film is the way it unconsciously illuminates the simplicity of the American political zeitgeist in the late nineties.