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Film / The Peacemaker

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"I'm not afraid of the man who wants ten nuclear weapons, Colonel. I'm terrified of the man who only wants one."
Julia Kelly

The Peacemaker is a movie from 1997 directed by Mimi Leder, staring Nicole Kidman and George Clooney. It was the first film released by DreamWorks.

A collision of Russian trains results in a nuclear explosion that turns out to be a cover for theft of other weapons. An official in the US State Department overseeing nuclear weapons, Dr. Julia Kelly (Kidman), and a U.S. Army Special Forces officer. Lt. Col. DeVoe (Clooney), must work together to find and recover the stolen nukes before they can be used. The movie was filmed in Slovakia and parts of the former Eastern Bloc as well as New York City. An example of the post-Cold War era in film making, it still retains a great deal of the Cold War focus on the Russian threat and American world supremacy.



  • Anti-Air: The Russian air defenses do not think kindly of DeVoe bringing 3 heavily armed choppers full of commandos into their territory. As a result, he leaves with only 2. Though it's implied that Kodoroff used his connections to that effect.
    DeVoe: ...if a top-ranking Russian general is involved, any intel we get from Moscow is either compromised... or a flat-out lie.
  • Anti-Villain: Gavrić. He is portrayed more sympathetically than the other main antagonists in the movie. While the others are in it for the money, he has more personal motivations: his wife and daughter were killed in Sniper Alley during the Yugoslav Wars. Rather than blame any of the warring sides, he blamed the West for supplying them with the arms to commit those atrocities - his plan to set off a bomb at the UN Headquarters is an act of revenge.
    "I am a Serb. I am a Croat. I am a Muslim."
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  • Artistic License – Geography: The Russian-Iranian and the Russian-Turkish borders — both of which do not exist at allnote  — have a key role in the plot. In a movie about Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell, no less!
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Kelly uses the butt of DeVoe's pistol as a hammer when trying to damage the detonator on the last bomb. But given that if she failed to knock out one of the detonating charges, the bomb would vaporize a good chunk of New York in thirty seconds, she might not have cared about the possibility of the gun going off and shooting her.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: Averted, in that Dr. Kelly actually does know what she's talking about (and the script-writers got the details largely correct).
  • Bilingual Backfire: The backfire ends up on DeVoe. Twice.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The film starts and ends in a church.
    • Kelly swimming laps.
  • Brick Joke: DeVoe tells the senate committee that he had a friend who provided a factory-fresh SUV. Later on Kodoroff reveals it was a stolen vehicle DeVoe bought on the black market.
  • The Chains of Commanding:
    • DeVoe's call to enter Russian airspace ends up getting one of the choppers shot down by Russian SAMs. Even though the mission succeeded, he becomes torn up by it.
    • Dr. Kelly, his civilian counterpart, is equally distraught.
  • Central Theme:
    • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell - and a better examination of it than most. The Americans are simultaneously relieved the Cold War is over and exasperated that such a mess was left behind. The Russians are asking So What Do We Do Now?. The small countries that had been their battlefield are left with lots of combat experience, and just as much reason to use it on the people responsible for it. The result is a terrorist attack on New York. Umm... Ouch?
    • Just below this is a thoughtful undertone of how Russia really was under Soviet rule; Obstructive Bureaucrats and Corrupt Politicians who were immune to their obstruction - and how America is Not So Different when it comes to how they treated their pawns.
      Dimitri Vertikoff: Kodoroff's generation of officers grew up in a crumbling system. Those pictures in your head of Russia; bread lines, shitty little apartments, ancient cars... Kodoroff and his friends made sure that it never applied to them. But now, even that system is crumbling.
      Aleksandr Kodoroff: I don't care what bitch gave birth to them; Muslim, Serb. I don't hate them for who they are. I hate them because they are poor.
      DeVoe: Sir, it's not our war.
      Dusan Gavrić: It is now.
  • Colonel Badass: DeVoe.
  • Communications Officer: CPN Beach is arguably one.
  • Dangerous Deserter: General Aleksandr Kodoroff - he starts out mad, bad, and dangerous to know. And that's before the credits finish.
  • Death from Above/I Can See You: Invoked by DeVoe, who knows Kodoroff is in a long line of trucks at the Iranian border they can see on a live satellite feed, but they can't tell which one. DeVoe rings up Kodoroff's mobile and makes him think there's a guided missile coming down on him right now, causing Kodoroff to pull out of the line and give away his position.
  • Defiant to the End: Kodoroff.
  • Desk Jockey: DeVoe's AF NCO buddy who's been listening in on satellites.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Gavrić crossed it when his wife and daughter died.
    "Who decided for my wife? My child, murdered, huh? For what? For what? For breathing? For smiling? And now, I am left. Who decides for me?"
  • Deadpan Snarker: DeVoe is quite a smart-ass around people.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: The bomb is smuggled into New York via diplomatic pouch, so it's never checked.
  • Empty Quiver: Only regarding Russian nukes this time.
  • Establishing Character Moment: DeVoe's personality is fairly well presented with his testimony before a Senate Subcommittee on the interception of a shipment of nerve gas. To note; it involved a Russian colonel friend, a hooker, and a $5,200 bar tab(that resulted in a Bar BRAWL). And he paid off the colonel by smuggling in a SUV for the colonel's teenage daughter.
  • Eureka Moment: Kelly and DeVoe trade these back and forth, based on their specialties.
    • Kelly realizes that the initial explosion was a terrorist act because even a Russian nuke would only go off if it was purposefully detonated. As such, she specifically asks for a liaison with contacts in Russia, the easier to pick out someone who would do such a thing.
    • DeVoe realizes that the train wreck was a hijacking because satellite photographs show men abandoning a second train about to collide with it - but not the one with the nuke, as everyone on it was already dead in a hijacking. He also recognizes Kodoroff as being way too important to be on a nuclear missile transport - and thus the one who set off the nuke.
    • Kelly, in turn, realizes that Kodoroff is too petty to have been acting alone - he wouldn't have stolen the nukes unless he knew he had a confirmed buyer waiting to pay for them. And she realizes that the only kind of person willing to buy obviously-stolen nukes from Kodoroff would be someone who wanted to use them. Immediately. She thus guides the team past numerous false leads to Gavrić.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Gavrić has a brother who carries the backpack bomb. And a wife and a daughter whose deaths sparked his Start of Darkness.
  • Every Man Has His Price: At one point, Dr. Kelly questions Colonel DeVoe's ethics due to his aptness in using bribery to get things done in Eastern Europe. He returns her scorn by explaining that when in Rome, you bribe like the Romans...
  • Facial Recognition Software: Portrayed properly for the technology of the 1990's.
  • False Reassurance:
    DeVoe: What do you think I am; some gung-ho stupid son-of-a-bitch?
    Kelly: No, I don't think you're stupid...
  • Fresh Clue: Colonel DeVoe realizes their bomber just left because the breakfast eggs are still warm. In fact, the bomber went down one elevator just as his team was going up the other.
  • Friendly Sniper: In a minor capacity, and it's more Cold Sniper, inverted.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-universe, so much that the German mobster uses "Hasselhoff" as his password.
  • Hauled Before A Senate Sub Committee: DeVoe thinks outside the box - way outside the box.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: After they attack the truck containing the warheads, one of the terrorists is stuck hanging from a cable off a bridge. They refuse to help him up until he talks.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: None of the villains, not even the Big Bad, can score a hit on any of the protagonists.
  • Irony: When IFOR finds out the last nuke is already in New York, the city is placed under lockdown to try to find Gavrić. He's carrying the warhead in a backpack, so anyone carrying one is searched, sometimes hastily and forcefully.
    Irate German tourist: Who are the fascists now?!
  • Ivy League for Everyone:
    • Kelly. It comes out while she and DeVoe are engaged in verbal arm-wrestling.
    • Even the villain's bomb technician went to Harvard.
  • Military Maverick: DeVoe - see Hauled Before A Senate Sub Committee above.
  • Motive Rant: Inverted. Gavrić's tape is found before the act of blowing up the UN was committed. This helps determine what act he was planning to do.
  • Multi National Team: IFOR.
  • Oh, Crap!: Kelly gets this when DeVoe reports successfully reclaiming eight nuclear warheads - because SS18 missiles have ten warheads each - one of which was set off in an attempt to cover up the theft of the other nine. That leaves one unaccounted for - in the hands of someone pissed off enough to use it.
  • Only in It for the Money: Kodoroff's motivation for the nukes' theft.
    DeVoe: OK. Officially, he's an asshole. He'll do anything for money, which is good, 'cause it makes him predictable.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Nicole Kidman briefly lapses into her native Aussie accent as she yells "Take the shot!"
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: DeVoe and Kelly - who don't let it get in the way of their shared goal.
  • Outranking Your Job: As a Lieutenant Colonel, DeVoe conceivably is of appropriate rank for a Pentagon staff officer, however once the bullets start flying, he spends most of his time running and gunning alongside the troops assigned to him, rather than staying behind where he can see the big picture. Justified in that he is a Special Operations Lieutenant Colonel: while he is a command-level officer of normal armed forces, Special Operations soldiers are notoriously hesitant to lose their experienced officers and keep them in active soldiering posts much longer.
  • Precision F-Strike / Famous Last Words: A dying Kodoroff's response when DeVoe asks him where the terrorists are headed: FUCK YOU!
  • Red Herring: Subverted with "44E" written in the comments of a recepit found by the protagonists when they trying to track the last missing warhead. At first, Kelly believes it refers to Sarajevo's longitude (44°E), where IFOR finds a taped Motive Rant for some yet-to-be-committed act in Gavrić's apartment. Combined with finding out Gavrić's is an alternate for a diplomatic delegation to a summit in New York, Kelly realizes "44E" refers to the address of the headquarters of the United Nations on East 44th Street.
  • Renegade Russian: Kodoroff. Though he's really Only in It for the Money.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: DeVoe goes on one when Dimitri is killed; not even caring about the papers they were stealing, just killing the assassins. Afterwards he berates himself that he got too close to someone In Harm's Way because he thought that a facilitator like Dimitri was too useful to kill out of hand.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Exploited by Kelly. When Gavrić's initial plan to blow up the UN is interrupted, he flees and the protagonists lose track of him. DeVoe bemoans he can just hide behind a dumpster and wait for the timer, but Kelly, knowing his motivation, believes he will look for a location of symbolic significance. They find him in a church.
    • The main villain's Start of Darkness occurs because a Cold Sniper shoots and kills his wife and daughter. He is unwittingly saved in New York when an American sniper refuses orders to fire because an innocent girl is in the way.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Dmitri Verdikoff.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: DeVoe violates Russian airspace in order to stop the convoy of warheads heading to Iran.
  • Straw Civilian: Averted. Kelly doesn't approve of guns or of DeVoe, but she's a rounded character who holds her own.
  • Suicide Attack: Gavrić's plan to set off a nuke at the UN Headquarters as an attack of revenge against the West.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: A White House official says it outright - "Russia, what a fucking mess! God, I miss the Cold War."
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Gavrić turned terrorist after his wife and daughter were killed during the Yugoslav Wars.


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