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by Jack Sommersby

"Mildly Diverting Stuff"
3 stars

Yeah, it's derivative and doesn't set its sights very high, but it delivers just enough of the goods.

Peacemaker is a low-budget science-fiction/action picture that could’ve been better thought out and staged a bit more precisely, but for what it is it provides a perfectly fun time for undemanding audiences not expecting anything particularly revelatory. Blatantly patterned off James Cameron’s extraordinary The Terminator, the story starts out with what NASA assumes to be a meteorite landing in the ocean off the Santa Monica beach, where a mysterious human-looking man emerges onshore and proceeds to break into a squad car to requisition a shotgun while four policeman are inside feasting on doughnuts (subtle, huh?); but when he’s caught in the act, he disables one officer, makes a run for it, and is eventually shot full of enough lethal-targeted holes to do in an entire football team. Later on, in the morgue, the assistant medical examiner Dori Caisson (Hilary Shepard) is about to start her autopsy when the victim’s body starts glowing and fully rejuvenates into its previously functioning self -- he escapes while managing to kidnap Dori and forcing her to take him to her home; she’s tied up, and the next morning, after several hours of watching television, the man explains that his name is Townsend (Lance Edwards) and has come from another solar system, and that he lost a special card during his struggle with the police that is essential in powering back up his space vessel submerged in the ocean during his trek to apprehend a serial killer. (Commenting on his stunted grasp of the English language, Dori tells him he’s doing better than the average high-school graduate.) During all of this, another man has been awoken from his uneventful stay in a low-rent motel, Yates (Robert Forster), who, armed with a huge Colt Python, has given chase and intends to take Townsend out. If one thinks back to The Terminator, until the forty-five-minute mark we were led to believe that both Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg and Michael Biehn’s freedom fighter might be eliminating a human target; here, the writer/director, Kevin S. Tenney, takes off from this and keeps us guessing whether it’s Townsend or Yates who’s the real “peacemaker,” an intergalactic police officer. (Yates claims that there are hundreds of his type on Earth, and that Townsend has been sent here to assassinate one of their own who’s in something like the federal-government’s Witness Protection program.) The movie definitely has more than its fair share of humor (Dori’s incessant wisecracking results in a few gold nuggets), and though the dialogue isn’t exactly of the highest order (“Just remember, the only difference between a brown nose and a shithead is depth perception”), the proceedings are paced quite adroitly and the stunt work is first-rate. And though Edwards is amateurish, the always-welcome Forster manages to give his scenes some oomph -- he made a fantastic starring debut twenty-one years prior in Medium Cool and since has given impressive performances even when the stuff he appeared in was far from praiseworthy; and it’s a real shame he wasn’t given more screen time because the tension ebbs whenever the story swings back to Edwards. Tenney was responsible for the disposables Witchboard and Night of the Creeps, and he’s much more assured this time out. Oh, he could’ve tightened everything up so there weren’t the occasional dead spot, and Jack Sholder’s similar The Hidden had a lot more imagination and wit, but Tenney has delivered enough entertainment value that warrants at least a curio of a look-see.

Not yet available on DVD.

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originally posted: 05/10/15 23:06:48
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  14-May-1990 (R)



Directed by
  Kevin S. Tenney

Written by
  Kevin S. Tenney

  Robert Forster
  Lance Edwards
  Hilary Shepard
  Robert Davi
  Bert Remsen

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