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The Peacekeeper
(1997)
 

Director: Frederic Forestier       
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Montel Williams, Roy Scheider


You would think that any made-for-video movie that (1), stars Dolph Lundgren, and (2), is Canadian would be terrible. But for The Peacekeeper, it's surprisingly an exciting, slickly executed take on the Die Hard formula, with a touch of goofiness that actually makes viewing more enjoyable.

To its credit, the first third of the movie doesn't even hint that it's going to rehash DH (and I can't help but wonder what it would have been like if the filmmakers had tried to be more original). Lundgren plays an American Air Force pilot who, at the beginning of the movie, breaks the rules and makes a humanitarian drop of food for refugees in the middle east. The Air Force, wanting to punish him but not face embarrassment in the media reassign him to carry the President's black bag - a suitcase that carries a computer enabling the president (Scheider) to launch a nuclear strike. Scheider wears glasses and he gives his character a wavering southern accent - obviously, he is supposed to imply George Bush, though I don't know why because the film was made several years after he left the presidency.

Lundgren goes to his heavily guarded hotel room after the President's press conference. Shortly afterwards, a group of terrorists sneak onto his floor, kill the guards, and take over the hotel's telephone system using a voice-changing computer. He puts up a good struggle and manages to escape unharmed, but the black bag gets into the hands of the terrorists. Thinking he's talking to the rest of the security team in the hotel (the computer changes the voice of the terrorist), the terrorists know where to kill the witness, leading up to one of the most jaw-dropping action scenes I've ever seen. The terrorist's chase Lundgren in his car to the top of a parkade, and then both cars continue by driving off the top of the parkade, and driving/flying from one building's roof to another several times! Though the sequence shows evidence of budget restraints (close-ups in jump scenes), the editing and action more than make up for it.

Lundgren manages to escape, and eventually follows the terrorists to their hideout - an underground missile-base. Together with the lone survivor (Williams) of the original platoon assigned to the base, they work together to stop the terrorists from their plan of threatening to launch a domestic missile strike unless the President commits suicide live on TV.

The rest of the movie follows the Die Hard formula, but it's not necessarily what is done, but how it is done. The Peacekeeper does this by keeping a swift pace, memorable visuals, and some good action scenes. Lundgren still isn't a great actor, but he's tolerable here and has managed to soften his accent. Talk-show host Williams actually manages to do an adequate job, especially since his character really isn't much more than the standard Black Sidekick. Direction by newcomer Forestier is well done, but unfortunately even he can't escape the "Canadian Look" (that immediately identifies a movie is Canadian, no matter the subject or location of the movie) to the cinematography.

Even with its flaws, The Peacekeeper will please b-movie fans looking for macho action, and is certainly better than a lot of major studio action movies. In fact, with a little more work and money, this would have deserved some kind of theatrical release. Even as it is now, as I write this, I'm thinking that.

(One last thought: Have you ever noticed that when a black guy and a white guy team up, the black guy is always the better actor?)

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See also: Fallen Knight, Bridge Of Dragons, Act Of War

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