A slam-bang action film with science-fiction underpinnings, PEACEMAKER sets itself apart from other features of its type, particularly those made on low budgets, by effectively blending suspense, romance, and comedy. The action begins when an interplanetary space rover crashes into the
Pacific Ocean, frightening a young couple on a beach. The alien pilot, Townsend (Lance Edwards), who looks like a normal man, heads into Los Angeles and antagonizes some police officers by trying to steal a shotgun from their squad car and sending one them flying about 30 feet with a casual blow.
More police arrive and pursue Townsend through back alleys and tenements, shooting him several times with little effect. Finally Townsend is surrounded and felled by a fusillade from the desperate cops. At the city morgue, Assistant Medical Examiner Dori Caisson (Hilary Shepard) is working on the
bullet-riddled corpse when it suddenly heals itself and returns to life. Caisson runs away, but Townsend captures her and tries to force her to help him escape in her car. Meanwhile, Yates (Robert Forster), another alien, hears news accounts of the mysterious crash-landing and the police battle
and, putting two and two together, proceeds to the morgue. When Yates spots Townsend and Caisson, he immediately tries to kill them. After a spectacular car-and-gun duel, Townsend succeeds in knocking Yates off the roof of a parking garage. Townsend forces Caisson to take him to her home, where he
ties her up and teaches himself English overnight by scanning radio and TV broadcasts. The next day, Townsend explains that he is a peacemaker, a lawman from another planet, and that Yates is a dangerous criminal he has been assigned to capture. He also explains his miraculous rejuvenation, saying
that his race can only be destroyed by massive damage to the brain. Meanwhile, Sgt. Frank Ramos (Robert Davi), a Los Angeles cop with a romantic interest in Caisson, worries when she fails to show up at work and decides to check for her at home. He arrives there shortly after Yates appears minus
one hand, the result of his own encounter with the LAPD. Ramos' arrival interrupts a vicious battle between the two aliens. Despite being shot in the stomach, Townsend pursues Yates on foot, then on motorcycle when Yates steals a pickup truck. After a lengthy chase, Townsend jumps onto the truck
and, while struggling with Yates, forces it off the road into a dynamite shack, resulting in a tremendous explosion. Caisson tries to tell Ramos that the two men were aliens, but he refuses to believe her. Naturally, everyone assumes the explosion killed Townsend and Yates, that is, until Yates,
severely burned but mostly intact, turns up at Caisson's house. He ties her up, rejuvenates, then convinces her that he, not Townsend, is the peacemaker and that Townsend is actually an extremely clever and dangerous criminal. He says she is in danger because Townsend will probably return to make
her help find the key to his space rover, which was lost during his first confrontation with the police. In no time, Townsend returns and attempts to kill Yates. But Caisson helps the severely wounded Yates escape, returning him to his room in a run-down hotel. She goes to retrieve the missing key
from Townsend's clothes at the morgue, intending to bring it to Yates. However, Townsend captures her again and manages to convince her that despite what Yates has told her, he, not Yates, is truly the peacemaker. After some inter-species hanky-panky in a motel room, Caisson gives Townsend the
key, sends him out to buy some clothes, and calls Ramos to let him know she is safe. However, Ramos informs Caisson that she is anything but safe, since her boss at the morgue was tortured to death the previous night, apparently by Townsend, who was searching for the missing key. Ramos quickly
drives to the motel with an army of police and attempts to capture Townsend, only to find that the alien has fled with Caisson. Caisson then manages to escape from Townsend herself, running over him in a pickup truck and returning to Yates' hotel. There she discovers that Yates had been lying to
her after all--that he is the criminal and Townsend is the peacemaker. Townsend shows up, badly wounded from clinging to the undercarriage of Caisson's truck, and surrenders his weapon when Yates threatens to kill Caisson, whereupon she distracts Yates long enough for Townsend to attack
bare-handed. After a desperate battle, Townsend reaches into a gash in his stomach, pulls out a handgun he has hidden there, and shoots Yates between the eyes. Caisson returns Townsend's key and takes him to his space ship so he can return to his home.
PEACEMAKER is an unexpected gem, a thriller that actually thrills, delivering the goods with a surprising amount of intelligence and style. Fans of sci-fi action films accustomed to dull knockoffs with one or two memorable moments at best will undoubtedly be impressed by director-screenwriter
Kevin Tenney's verve and inventiveness. PEACEMAKER is lots of fun--the highest compliment you can pay a film of this type.
The film is also technically impressive, boasting rich nighttime cinematography by Thomas Jewett and elaborate but convincing makeup effects by John Blake. With the exception of a few scenes that show that the shooting and post-production of the film were probably rushed, PEACEMAKER looks like a
big-budget effort throughout. Take a close look, for instance, at Yates' now-you-see-it, now-you-don't severed hand in the motorcycle-pickup truck chase scene. However, quibbles about continuity and poor timing in a few chase scenes seem petty when compared to all that this film has to offer.
For one thing, PEACEMAKER is a stunt extravaganza, packed from beginning to end with some truly spectacular and imaginative action sequences. It also manages to build genuine suspense by keeping the audience guessing as to which alien is the bad guy. Tenney even scores reasonably often in his
attempts at humor, usually with throwaway lines such as Davi's contemptuous reference to Townsend as "Mork."
The acting by the entire cast is more than adequate to carry the film along. Forster (DELTA FORCE; THE BLACK HOLE) turns in a very strong performance as the impassive alien who may or may not be a murderer, and newcomer Edwards is equally effective as his foil. Davi, who usually plays the heavy
(LICENCE TO KILL), is also interesting, despite his apparent discomfort in this good-guy role. (Excessive violence, adult situations, nudity.)
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- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: A slam-bang action film with science-fiction underpinnings, PEACEMAKER sets itself apart from other features of its type, particularly those made on low budgets, by effectively blending suspense, romance, and comedy. The action begins when an interplanetar… (more)