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The Peacemaker (1997) is amazingly relevant - Elf M. Sternberg
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The Peacemaker (1997) is amazingly relevant
Last night Raen and I sat down to watch The Peacemaker, a Clinton-era action thriller about a nuclear weapon heist. It stars Nicole Kidman as the civilian director of the White House Nuclear Response Team, and George Clooney as an action-oriented Army colonel in Defense Intelligence who specializes in tracking down dealers in stolen chemical weapons. When a warhead being transported by train through Russia for dismantling blows up unexpectedly, these two work together to realize that it was a heist, and they have to find the remaining warheads that were on the train.

Everything about that film is still relevant twenty years later. The film opens with a dialogue between a Russian sergeant and his lieutenant: "I didn't sign up for the Russian Army to help the Americans take it apart." The humiliation of the Russian state is a huge driver of one major plot, and The Peacemaker muses on how Russia is descending into a kleptocratic state and how Russian organized crime is the only group that really seems to have its act together.

There are spoilers ahead, but it's a fairly old film.

At one point, the villians are trying to escape by driving through Azerbijan, but the roads are flooded with refugees from the Armenia/Azerbijani war. Those two countries are still at war with each other today. The Russians like this state of affairs: they get to sell arms to both sides, and since Armenia borders both Georgia and Turkey, they get to distract the West a lot with this bullshit.

There are two villians in the film: The one who performs the nuke-stealing operation, and the one who finances it. The latter is a survivor of the Bosnia/Croatia/Serbia War from '92 through '94, and who intends to wreak vengeance on the United Nations for their part in the war. His "terrorist speech" could have been written by a Syrian, the entirety of it an angry rejoinder to great forces meddling in affairs that are not theirs to meddle.

And during one scene where the heist villains are driving through Russia, we get a tense but precise dialogue about civilian control. Clooney's character honors civilian control, in the guise of Kidman, throughout the film, but his pressure on her to "get authorization or those nukes will end up in Iran!" is insistent, and her reaction to it is strong. Today, we're debating whether or not a retired Marine general should head the Department of Defense, and the issue of whether or not someone whose whole life has been shooting people should be in charge of sending others out to shoot other people is super-relevant.

It's a very political film without ever once really mentioning politics. It's a shame that Mimi Leder has become better known for her work on TV than movies. Yes, her other major film, Deep Impact was a terrible movie about good people making one stupid decision after another, and it deserved to die. But The Peacemaker is a damn fine action film and deserves a second look.

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omahas From: omahas Date: December 5th, 2016 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Today, we're debating whether or not a retired Marine general should head the Department of Defense, and the issue of whether or not someone whose whole life has been shooting people should be in charge of sending others out to shoot other people is super-relevant."

That's actually NOT the debate. The debate is whether he should head the DoD so SOON after retiring. There is a law that says that military leaders must be retired 7 years before they can be on a civilian government position.

And there's a very important reason for it. Our country is supposed to be under civilian control (which is why the Commander-in-Chief is an elected civilian). Allowing an active/recently retired military person to head the DoD would come too close to the military trying to take control.
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