Also offensive, sick and very far removed from reality.
I mean ten West Point cadets sadistically gang rape a co-ed cadet for hours while brutally beating her up, and the Army decides, on a balance of considerations, to just forget it? Huh? And then the general himself, loving father of the girl, tells her to buck up and pretend it didn't happen? What? I mean there are some sociopathic guys at the Point, no doubt, but ten sickies in the same class stupid and sadistic enough to do something like that because they are jealous of her? The Army might well try to cover it up, but they sure as hell would want to know who did it. And it gets worse. The lifestyle that the daughter adopts because of this horror and the insane way she seeks to rid herself of the memory is like something dreamed up by a serial killer screen writer on a bad day. And then, after treating us to this nightmare of degrading misogyny, the authors, looking for a saving grace, run some closing words down the screen telling us that now there are over 200,000 women serving proudly in the military, as though perhaps we ought to be thankful for the events depicted in this film for that fact, or maybe they hoped to create the illusion that something like those events actually happened!
I'm taking names: the director is Simon West, novel by Nelson DeMille, screenplay by Christopher Bertolini and William Goldman, who, alas, has seen better days. Here's an example of how trite some of the dialogue is. Travola's character is a seasoned veteran who actually fought in Vietnam and now is a warrant officer. He is told by Col. Fowler, another even more seasoned veteran, in dead seriousness that there are three ways to do things, "the right way, the wrong way, and the army way." Wow, that was original probably a hundred years ago, the sort of wisdom usually handed out by drill instructors to Private E-1's during basic training, not something a colonel might say to a warrant officer. Or, here's another. Travolta, recalling how as a raw recruit in Vietnam, he was by chance comforted by the general who asked where he was from, and when he heard from Boston, told him that the Red Sox had won the day before. The sound track soars and the camera pans to the faces of Col. Fowler and Madeleine Stowe to show us they know how uplifting and inspirational that was for the frightened young man.
But don't blame the actors for this travesty. John Travolta, who begins the movie as an undercover sergeant, put a lot of (somewhat stupid) energy into his part, including a funny southern accent, and obviously had a good time. And you can see that James Woods tried hard to infuse some sparkle into the insipid lines and to bring some depth into the shallow and cliché-ridden character he plays. James Cromwell as the general was as ugly as sin and twice as despicable, while Madeleine Stowe looked good enough to ravish. And I thought Leslie Stefanson did a commendable job as the incomprehensible daughter.
Bottom line: a new place in hell has been set aside for the purveyors of this sort of sado/sexploitation thriller We'll call it the Griffin Mill Screening Room (after the Machiavellian producer from The Player (1992)), a place in which the producers, the director and the writers are forced to view their concoction until the evaporation of the last black hole in space or the Big Crunch, whichever comes first.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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