Up 644 this week

In the Valley of Elah (2007)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  28 September 2007 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 57,838 users   Metascore: 65/100
Reviews: 218 user | 230 critic | 37 from

A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son's disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.



(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


The 25 Most Immersive Worlds in Cinema

Highly immersive cinematic worlds can carry a movie, and we've rounded up the best of the best.

See the full list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

list image
a list of 23 titles
created 05 Mar 2011
a list of 39 titles
created 12 Sep 2011
a list of 48 titles
created 17 Oct 2011
a list of 31 titles
created 04 Jan 2013
a list of 21 titles
created 22 Apr 2014

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: In the Valley of Elah (2007)

In the Valley of Elah (2007) on IMDb 7.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of In the Valley of Elah.

User Polls

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

North Country (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States -- Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.

Director: Niki Caro
Stars: Charlize Theron, Jeremy Renner, Frances McDormand
Trapped (2002)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

When their daughter is kidnapped by experienced nappers, the Jennings' turn the tables on this seemingly foolproof plan.

Director: Luis Mandoki
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Charlize Theron, Courtney Love
Monster (2003)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a serial killer.

Director: Patty Jenkins
Stars: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern
The Hunted (2003)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

An FBI deep-woods tracker captures a trained assassin who has made a sport of hunting humans.

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Activists arrive in Seattle, Washington en masse to protest a meeting of the World Trade Organization. Riots and chaos ensue as demonstrators successfully stop the WTO meetings.

Director: Stuart Townsend
Stars: André Benjamin, Jennifer Carpenter, Isaach De Bankolé
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A married couple's life is turned upside down when the wife is accused of a murder.

Director: Paul Haggis
Stars: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson
Young Adult (2011)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now happily married and has a newborn daughter.

Director: Jason Reitman
Stars: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A law firm brings in its "fixer" to remedy the situation after a lawyer has a breakdown while representing a chemical company that he knows is guilty in a multi-billion dollar class action suit.

Director: Tony Gilroy
Stars: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A detective in post-Katrina New Orleans has a series of surreal encounters with a troop of friendly Confederate soldiers while investigating serial killings of local prostitutes, a 1965 lynching, and corrupt local businessmen.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, Peter Sarsgaard
Adventure | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Ranch hand Pete Perkins looks to fulfill the promise to his recently deceased best friend by burying him in his hometown in Mexico.

Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam
The Client (1994)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young boy who witnessed the suicide of a mafia lawyer hires an attorney to protect him when the district attorney tries to use him to take down a mob family.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro
Crash I (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption.

Director: Paul Haggis
Stars: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton


Cast overview, first billed only:
Sgt. Dan Carnelli
Arnold Bickman
Corporal Steve Penning
Spc. Gordon Bonner
Spc. Ennis Long
Mike Deerfield
Detective Nugent
Private Robert Ortiez (as Victor Wolf)
Detective Hodge


In Monroe, Tennessee, Hank Deerfield, an aging warrior, gets a call that his son, just back from 18 months' fighting in Iraq, is missing from his base. Hank drives to Fort Rudd, New Mexico, to search. Within a day, the charred and dismembered body of his son is found on the outskirts of town. Deerfield pushes himself into the investigation, marked by jurisdictional antagonism between the Army and local police. Working mostly with a new detective, Emily Sanders, Hank seems to close in on what happened. Major smuggling? A drug deal gone awry? Credit card slips, some photographs, and video clips from Iraq may hold the key. If Hank gets to the truth, what will it tell him? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes finding the truth is easier than facing it. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and disturbing content, language and some sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 September 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Death and Dishonor  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$133,557 (USA) (14 September 2007)


$6,777,589 (USA) (15 February 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Barry Corbin and Kathy Lamkin also starred in No Country for Old Men (2007) the same year. The two movies both have Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA as shooting location and Roger Deakins as director of photography. See more »


In the scene where Hank Deerfield is trying to access his son's financial records via his laptop, he is talking to his wife on the phone. When the camera is on him, he is holding the handset to his ear but when the camera is on the laptop, the phone is visible to the right of the laptop and the handset is on-hook. The logo of a dial-up ISP is displayed on the laptop as it's downloading e-mail. If the laptop is connected to the ISP, he couldn't be using the phone line to make a voice call. See more »


[first lines]
Spc. Gordon Bonner: What are you doing? Get back in the fucking vehicle man! Mike, get back in the fucking vehicle. Let's go, Mike, now!
See more »


Featured in Miss Representation (2011) See more »


What Have We Done
Written by Wanda Jackson and Wendell Goodman
Performed by Wanda Jackson and Justin Trevino
Courtesy of Texas Music Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

War as Parable - IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
21 September 2007 | by See all my reviews

'War is hell' but perhaps it is the postwar that is most telling. At least that is the thesis of Paul Haggis' latest film, In the Valley of Elah, a story of a father's quest for his son that reveals some bitter truths about war. Not an easy film to swallow upfront, it is certainly one of the best films of the year.

A grizzled, former military policeman, Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones), is notified that his son, Mike, is AWOL after returning from the fighting in Iraq. What begins as a methodical search for his son's whereabouts becomes more tragic and clashes with local police and military brass. Where is his son, and what do his soldier buddies know about one fateful night near their base? And what if anything did happen to him in Iraq? These questions are answered in small pieces and with alarming implications. Hank's skills at police work help convince local Detective Emily Sanders (Charlize Theron) to take charge of the case despite the doubts of her own colleagues and the military, led by investigator Lt. Kirklander (Jason Patric). Mike's PDA has garbled video that begins to paint a disturbing picture of the war front. Hank's search takes an emotional toll on himself and his wife (Susan Sarandon). He and Emily form an uneasy alliance, and, amid theories and suspects, what emerges is an ominous portrait of war veterans on the homefront. Ultimately Hank comes face to face with a disarming truth about his son's fate and the possible involvement of his military brethren.

The story is based on actual events in 2001 in Tennessee, and its title references the mythic tale of David and Goliath set at a time when the rules of engagement were different than the present. Its sparse, simplistic structure of a mystery peppered with flashback video and imagery may seem on surface like an independent film, but its message and execution is on a grander scale and not merely with dialogue. With effective visuals, much is conveyed by silence, expression, or simple body language.

As with other Haggis films, things that seem ordinary and insignificant at the beginning have implications later on. Though not as overtly obvious with connecting a myriad of dots as in his Oscar winner Crash, the threads are all there to gradually weave together. It is refreshing that the jurisdictional conflict between local police and the military does not take a stereotypic turn of heavy handed conspiracy and cover-up even though the military investigators are not cast in the best light. It shares a similar feel with the recent Courage Under Fire where the truth is unearthed in small bits until a bigger picture emerges. A couple of minor plot points go nowhere such as Hank meeting an old comrade who may have connections with military intelligence.

As grandiose and flamboyant as was his Oscar–winning turn in The Fugitive, Tommy Lee Jones' acting here is equally underplayed; he is magnificent. Through the pain and guilt that creep over his lined features, you also feel his suffering, his loss, and understand his bitterness. His Hank is a proud man, a patriot, who wants the truth. The truth ultimately changes him forever. Equally up to the challenge is Theron, in a strong performance, whose detective is a single mother who must battle her own squad and superiors while trying to solve a mystery. Even Sarandon's brief moments are affecting as the long distance wife. The rest of the cast is very good; they become real people.

This is not simply the readjustment to the homefront done magnificently in The Best Years of Our Lives or the heavy use of dramatic love triangle to condemn the Vietnam War in Coming Home. Rather, it takes the concept of a given war and allows it to become the ultimate villain in an increasingly sordid mystery. Its ending calls to mind The Deer Hunter but with a more pessimistic bent. It most certainly vilifies the effects of war on its men.

It is significant that a passing quote, "We all do stupid things," says something about not just the horror of warfare, but what such conflict does to its soldiers, and how they become soulless monsters capable of the most brutal of crimes. This is a brave, imperfect film that sets a somber tone and never lets up. The final image is a statement that makes this perhaps the subtlest of antiwar films ever. Oscar nominations can start here with picture, direction, screenplay, and the duo of Jones and Theron. While not everyone will be willing to let the story unfold with its nuanced direction and understated acting, those who are patient will find a moving tale of innocence lost and corrupted.

73 of 90 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
More tripe from Paul Haggis (please stop making movies)... sfostrom
FLAG upside down? bokensdorf
I should have known zricz
Difficult Questions on War by an Asian arno-40
Question about pantyhose... miller2184
did this movie make anyone else barf? bdragon89
Discuss In the Valley of Elah (2007) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: