The General's Daughter (1999) Poster

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Disturbing Thriller
mjw23057 January 2007
A beautiful army officer is murdered in compromising circumstances that the fort MacCallum officials would rather keep quite. John Travolta and Madeleine Stowe are the investigators into the murder, and it's seems that someone wants to keep the truth hidden.

Travolta and Stowe both capture the necessary elements of their characters and they are well supported by James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton, Clarence Williams II and James Woods.

This suspenseful mystery thriller delivers the disturbing truths of the story very well, it does have its flaws, but they are largely forgivable due to the captivating delivery and direction.

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Rape scene
katie-rayson6 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The film was altogether very interesting but at the same time tragic, especially the gang-rape scene which left me incredibly disturbed. The storyline is amazing and is enough to draw someone into the film even if halfway through and the direction of the film is very well done. The characters were very convincing and the acting of both the daughter and John Trovolta's character was unbelievable. The point at which the daughter was told not to talk of her rape - you could actually see every emotion through her eyes, enough to make anyone break down. Although the whole plot of the film was based around a young, murdered woman, it did cast a very negative view on how woman are treated in the US forces which could be seen as unfair. Although this is true, it did show a very valid point of how, in any job, men still value themselves as having a 'right' to be in the job over women.
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Seen it many times and still enjoying
steve-ruzicka17 April 2010
I have developed a large DVD library over the years, some 1,000 today! There are only a few which I will see more than once or twice. And The General's Daughter is one I keep seeing with pleasure. You will have read many reviews, scattering ratings from 1 to 10, as usual, but with a poor average rate. I personally like the movie for its excellent tempo and accompanying music. Travolta, Cromwell and Stowe fit their respective role perfectly. The global integration of filming, dialogs, acting and plot come out exactly right. So of course I try to understand why the rating is so poor. I have read criticism regarding the poor adaptation from the book, the way the army is depicted so unjustly, the average performance of Travolta and his annoying southern accent and more. Well, we have the right to our choices and own judgment. On a closing note, I wish people would stop repeating the plot in their reviews: it's boring, redundant and does not provide a bit of film analysis.
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Great movie unfairly savaged by critics.
csjintn30 March 2005
THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER is movie that has been done before. But it knows this and is able to look past it's cliché's and have fun with the genre. A cop(Travolta) is called to an army base to investigate the death of a general's daughter after she has been raped and beat to death and left naked and tied to the ground with tent stakes. It's a ghastly sight and everyone wants him to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. The problem is that EVERYONE has something to hide or is hiding someone who has something to hide. This has an all-star cast and they are terrific. The story is well written and the cast has some fun with it along the way. Director Simon West knows how to tell the story with a slight tongue and cheek flavor and still maintain the very serious nature of the subject matter. The action sequences are very well choreographed and the climax is pretty intense. So if you are looking for a familiar but really good, intense, and exciting action murder mystery THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER is well worth seeing. No matter if the critics thumbed their elitist nose's at it. They're loss is our average Joe's gain. ***1/2 out of 4.
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Lots Of Pluses and Minuses, But Entertaining
ccthemovieman-13 March 2006
This was an excellent drama marred only by a little too much profanity and the normal Hollywood obsession of portraying the United States military as corrupt. (I have a news flash for filmmakers: there are some honest men in the military....really!!!) Feminism in the armed forces is another "agenda" item in this film.

There are many pluses, however, with this movie that should be noted. . The acting is excellent with a deep cast featuring John Travolta, James Cromwell, Madeline Stowe, Timothy Hutton, James Woods, Clarence Williams III, Leslie Stefanson and more.

I loved the dialog between Travola and Woods. It reminded me of the film noir films of the 1940s. The general's daughter, Stephanson, is a bit hard-edged in here but it's understandable when you find out why she acts the way she does. The characters the actors are all interesting and the story hooks you in right away. The cinematography is great. This looks stunning on DVD.

There are no lulls in this film and the action isn't overdone, either. Very entertaining.
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Very mysterious
Quinoa198415 July 2000
The General's Daughter may be flawed, but thanks to the acting, it's hardly a matter. John Travolta gives a good performance and James Woods gives an even better one, showing that one scene with back and forth dialougue can make one film pretty interesting. Still, a good mystery, with the plot set in good place for one of Travolta's best pics. A-
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Very interesting, keeps you guessing.
kd0yz28 January 2000
I was intrigued and kept guessing who and what all the way through. It kept me interested and on edge. Entertainment at its best. John Travolta keeps growing as an actor and Madeline Stowe is always excellent. A good story, well told that will keep you interested all the way through.
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..The General's Daughter is anything but "general"..
fimimix21 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I liked this movie so much, I watched it twice, once tonight just to make sure I had the story right. There are SO MANY colonels, captains and generals in "The General's Daughter," it's ludicrous to even name the actors who played them. I am from a military town (2nd World War); there were tens-of-thousands of troops from all over the world on the base, but only one colonel ran it.....a gay one, at that. This kinda ties-in the feature of this film about gays in the military - it's been around forever......

One-time-pretty-boy from "Saturday Night Fever" star, John Travolta (CID officer Paul Brenner) really did an excellent acting-job in this movie. I was surprised to see that he had put-on a lot more weight, hard to accept about the really hot-looking guy who played in the movie named here. I've seen other films (look at "Blowout" for another great movie he starred in) and was aware that he was going to be heavy. I just can't see him that way.

Brenner and CID Sunhill(Madeleine Stowe) are investigating the nude death of Capt. Liz Campbell (Leslie Stefanson), who just happens to be the CO's daughter. Because it took place on a military training-base, everyone is covering-up for everyone, and most of them are guilty in some way for the murder. Seems the captain was at the top of her class at West Point, and not very well-liked there - she was brutally raped by her classmates in a war-game, stapled to the ground by tent-spikes and abandoned. Her murder was a re-enactment of the rape, but with a twist which shouldn't be revealed by a review. Col. Robert Moore (James Woods in an excellent role) is the prime suspect. A military base seems to be just like a small town - everyone knows everything about everyone.....Capt. Campbell was a promiscuous lady, but I won't reveal another twist, which is the main theme of the movie. Some commenters seem to think folk in the military lead pristine lives - they apparently have not heard of, or have forgotten, the many sexual attacks perpetrated against female airmen at The Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Tim Hutton (Col. William Kent) plays a good role in "The General's Daughter", also. We won't get into that, because he also plays a major role in the movie. Usually, I don't like too much violence in films, but this is a good story with good acting by major stars, such as James Cromwell (Lt. Gen. Campbell). To tell too much about the plot will spoil the story, if you haven't seen it yet - but should.

I feel certain an alert viewer will get the point about "abandonment". Although I realize it's necessary for the military to train under "live-fire", I personally do not accept it is moral to do so with a "live" mine-field. I reveal this feature of the movie, without disclosing how it is used.

Director Simon West and scriptor Bertolini get it all together for this film. The plot is faced-paced - maybe a little over-the-top for actual, military life - and will keep you guessing and entertained throughout the whole thing. I recommend it for all adult viewers. I have no idea how it is reviewed here so negatively by so many commenters - I say bravo !
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The General's Daughter is a slick,engrossing murder mystery,That'll keep you guessing.
callanvass28 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The General's Daughter pulls out all the stops to give you an unpredictable ride,you won't soon forget!. It starts off at a horribly slow pace,from then on,I honestly thought I was in for a long night,but it quickly picked up,and put me in it's grip,while never letting go. It throws some great little swerves your way,to keep you guessing who the major culprit is. And while I had a decent feeling what the main conspiracy was gonna be,and I ended up being right,it still gave it a very nice try. I really liked the atmosphere it had to it. Seeing Brenner walk around the base often managed,to give me the chills. Some have complained about John Travolta's miscasting as Brenner. However I have to disagree,he had the perfect balance,of cockiness and charisma to Brenner. Here, he played an arrogant,but likable hero. Rape is quite the controversial subject,so I found the featured subject to be,quite uncomfortable. The ending itself is a knockout. The confrontation between Brenner and Lt.Gen Joseph Campbell is one to remember,and very suspenseful. The General's Daughter is quite a delight of a film. I was quite surprised,by how engaging it truly was,the 6.1 rating is horribly low,for the quality of this film.

Performances. John Travolta is a rock as Brenner. He oozes charisma,while bringing that patented charm,we know all too well about. He's full of himself,but we appreciate his tenacity,his never back down attitude,and most importantly,his chemistry with Madeline Stowe,is above average. James Woods is a revelation as Moore. This guy can eat a potato and make it look interesting,whenever he was on screen,my eyes were glued. Madeleine Stowe is beautiful,but manages to give a competent performance as well,fluffy,yet believable. James Cromwell is a class act. While I never agreed with his character's direction,or actions,I thought he did a fabulous job. Timothy Hutton is an actor i'm not too familiar with,since I haven't seen him in much. However here he is excellent in his screen time,having a very key part near the end. Leslie Stefanson is very pretty and did well,with what she had to do.

Bottom Line. The General's Daughter is a superbly crafted,murder mystery. It will often leave you on the edge of your seat,while entertaining you in the process. It was a great way to spend two hours,therefore,I highly recommend it.

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Better Than Excellent
castro_la_bonita7727 May 2002
I grew up in a military family and the first time I watched this film, it was more like a documentary to me than anything. I probably missed half this film in tears the first time I watched it. I've watched it now almost 50 times and it never looses it's luster. Each actor/actress was chosen perfectly for their part.....what a movie, it says everything even on 'mute'.
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No Military Advisor?
carlcurtice23 March 2001
I saw this movie more than 18 months ago and have been pissed ever since because I wasted $7.00 to see it. A very bad movie with a huge amount of wasted talent. Travolta is mired in a role that is poorly written, but makes a valiant effort to recover from the script. Woods is always great (excluding "Killer") and I will watch any movie Stowe and Cromwell make. What really made me vote "2" for this movie was the way the military was presented. I'll be willing to bet that the Military Advisor didn't come to work most days. Soldiers driving HMMWVs off-duty in Dress Blues? Never! Changing a flat tire in those Blues? Are you serious? A CID agent telling a soldier that, "You're in the Army, you don't have any rights." Try reading the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Military people have more rights than American civilians. Soldiers on a live-fire ranges wearing soft caps instead of helmets would never happen. There are so many obvious falsehoods in the movie that there is not enough space to list them here. Having read several other reviews I can understand how other people, with no military service, could have overlooked the unrealistic portrayal of the Army and enjoyed the movie. But for me, with 23 years of active Army service, this was just a bad portrayal and a bad movie. Shame on the Military Advisor for letting the Director get away with so many falsehoods about a great institution.
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A powerful thriller with Oscar Worthy performances. ***1/2 out of ****
Movie-1226 September 1999

Starring: John Travolta, James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton, Madeleine Stowe, James Woods Director: Simon West 116 minutes 1999 Rated R (for graphic violence, rape & sexuality, nudity, and for language)

By Blake French--Based on comments by Richard Blink.

"The General's Daughter" is a masterfully suspenseful thriller in which the audience can only try to guess what the truth is. It's a mystery film, one that works in ways beyond your imagination. The film is so precise in its dialogue, so intelligent in its story, so tense in its confrontations, and so brutal in its subject matter that this can only be described as one of the years most intriguing movies.

John Travolta stars as a Warrant Officer named Paul Brenner, who, with his partner Sara, is assigned to investigate the brutal murder of Captain Elisabeth Campbell, a rising military star and specialist in Psychological Operations, who was found tied up and dead in the middle of a battle training field. The Provost Marshall, Colonel William Kent, has called his friend, Brenner, to examine the case.

However, this is not just any girl here that was killed. Brenner finds out that this is the daughter of retiring three-star general Joe Campbell. He is saddened and is willing to help the investigation in any way possible, but he has his own "army" rules that he demands Brenner to follow, which makes their search difficult.

Things deepen when the investigation leads to an apparent rape of the victim, as it does when the two detectives dig further into the case and undercover secrets that may point to any number of suspects right there in the base, all who appear suspicious and somehow are involved with the victim.

The performance by John Travolta may be Oscar worthy material it is so powerful. His scenes add punch and a jagged edge to everything in the movie. He is perfectly casted and recites his dialog in such a way that during his confronting scenes, the audience is on the edge of their seats and breathless. And not only that, but a comic touch of dramatic relief is provided by Travolta when the going gets too tough.

James Woods is another performance highlight in "The General's Daughter." He provides an uncertain slyness to his character. One that makes the audience become involved and intrigued. Also performing on a high is the humble hearted "Babe" farmer James Cormwell, as the General himself, with robust deepness and a character as far from "Babe's" as they get.

"The General's Daughter" is most certainly worth going to see at the theater, and if you decide to rent it instead of seeing it on the big screen that is still okay, but you will not receive the same effect. Who actually did rape and kill the general's daughter? I think you'll be surprised.

Brought to you by Paramount Pictures.
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sadly dishonest
greenforest5615 September 2005
'The General's Daughter' was a slightly above average flick until the very end. Sadly, at this point the film makers decided to make it a propaganda film by shamefully manipulating the audience.

'The General's Daughter' is completely a work of fiction – it is entirely made up. However, the film makers insert a final message giving the viewer the impression that it was a true story. They follow this, and reveal the purpose of their dishonesty, with a short endorsement for women in the military. In doing this they ceased to be film makers and became mere propagandists, dishonest manipulators who lie to the commoners for the 'greater good'. In my opinion, in doing so, they embarrassed both themselves and the art of film making.

It is completely moral to take a true story and 'dramatize' it for a moral or ideological reason. It is also moral to create an entirely fictional story for the same reason. However, it is unethical to create a fictional story and then mislead the viewer into believing it is true just to propagate one's ideology. It is this sin that the film makers are guilty of.

You may say, 'Well, everyone knows it's from a novel'. Oh, please….. There are so many people who don't read books at all and whose only source of knowledge is the movies or TV. To these people, movies and TV are the Voice of Authority. The film makers are well aware of this. Perhaps it was this awareness that led them to this manipulation…….
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Screen Play Took Away From the Book
Sambarb33717 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Before renting the movie, I listened to Nelson Demille's audiobook. The book got me hooked. I got up at 4:00 a.m. and treked out to the car to pick up the last few tapes.

Overall, as a father, the effect of this book was to make me realize there are certain things that a father can't say, actions a father can't take if that father wants to avoid destroying the trust between himself and his daughter. It's not just a question of career over family.

It's a question of being in touch with emotions, and understanding feelings.

The compromise General Campbell made in West Point, to not stand up for his daughter, to not rock the boat, to ask his daughter to forget, was more understandable in the book. All the West Point Brass was pressuring him to not destroy the school. Convince his daughter not to make a stink.

I find few movies as good as books. Books allow me to use my imagination. The whole rape area, as I envisioned it, was much more rural, much more out of the way.

Paul's confrontation with the General in the end, his getting the general court martialed seemed just too politically correct. After all, if you go for the general, go for the West Point staff that was pressuring the general to shut the incident up. Go for them all.

John Travolta and Madeline Stowe did a fine job. However, the sexual tension and underlying passion between them was pretty much avoided between the book and the movie. That made a big loss.

Nelson Demille is a great writer. I look forward to reading more of his works.

It's hard to turn a great book into a good movie.
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Excellent murder mystery, very suspenseful, very intriguing
seawolf-521 June 1999
Excellent movie. Outstanding performances by the feature players. Special accolades go to John Travolta, and Madeleine Stowe. Leslie Stefanson also played a very emotional and important role in uncovering the motive behind her character's murder. Mr. Travolta's performance is excellent and rivals his performance in "Face Off." It was also good to see Madeleine Stowe in a role of substance that permits her to keep her clothed through the entire movie. She should be getting meatier roles that display her dramatic range as a strong female. A definite departure from some of her earlier films.
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Great film
ati75006 June 2007
It is a must seen movie :

  • First time viewer will be surprised by the ending. - second time viewer will be a woman considering that the road is still long to fairness and that everyday is a challenge.

  • Relation between daughter and fathers are exploited on a very personal level.

Travolta is very convincing and suitable in uniform.

Inspiring film for those who see it : if the message does not hit you, it will leave an impact.

Big plus is the sound track very adapted to the story.

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Overly Talky, But Well Made
ReelCheese12 June 2006
Overly talkative and overly complex, "The General's Daughter" just doesn't know when to quit. Still, there's no denying it is a well-made, well-acted effort from director Simon West (Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider). John Travolta stars as Warrant Officer Paul Brenner, determined to get to the bottom of the murder of a respected base commander's daughter. Of course very little is as it initially seems as Brenner peels back one layer of lies after another -- some surprising, others less so. The final truth is so bizarre and disturbing that even the most experienced viewers won't guess it. More focus and a shorter running time would have helped this one.
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A Rainy night In Georgia
sol121819 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
******SPOILERS****** One rainy night in Georgia a young women is found murdered at the Ft. McCullen Army Base. She turns out to be the bases commanders Lt. Gen Joseph Campbell, James Cromwell, daughter Capt. Elisabeth Campbell, Leslie Stefanson. Elisabeth worked in the Pys/Opps department on the army base which is into manipulating and playing with peoples minds. Assigned to the case are Warrant Officers Paul Brenner and Sara Sunhill, John Travolta and Madeleine Stowe, to find the murderer.

There are a number of fingerprints found on the murder site that belong to Col. Robert Moore, James Woods, and he's arrested and put into lock-up. Later because the officer, Col. William Kent, Timothy Hutton, in charge of lock-up wasn't told the reasons for Moore's incarceration he's released to his quarters. Brenner and Sunhill go to Moore's house to re-arrest him and find him dead, he shot himself. The trail of Capt. Campbell's murder leads the investigators to West Point where they find out that Capt. Campbell was brutally raped in a military exercise some seven years ago. The rape, with the help of her father Lt. Gen.Campbell, was covered up for the good of the military as well as the academy.

Elisabeth Campbell over the years developed a deep and bitter resentment against her father Lt.Gen.Campbell for not trying to find and punish those who beat and raped her. Working in Pys/Opps she used what she learned there, in mind games, to play with and torture her father's mind over his betrayal of her for his love of the army. One of those games that she was playing on her father seemed to have gone terribly wrong the night she was found murdered.

Ridiculously contrived story about the going's on behind the scenes in the US military. John Travolta acts in the movie more like a vicious thug then an army investigator brutalizing and intimidating everyone that he comes in contact with in regards to the murder investigation, from generals to privates and this guy is only a warrant office! The best thing that you can say about Travolta's acting in the movie is that he dropped that very unconvincing and annoying southern accent that he used early in the film; who did he think he was playing? Gomer Pyle USMC?. The accent was so phony that it almost got him killed earlier in the movie when he tried to set up some militia type, by selling him arms. The on the ball militia man got wind of him just by listening to Trovolta talk as well as his stupid and obnoxious actions when he was dealing with him.

The way the movie treated the US military was the biggest crime in it. There's nobody in the movie that you could consider normal including it's star John Travolta. With a surprise ending that was so contrived, in the light of the serious subject matter, that it came across almost as a comedy. With the only normal and stable person in the army as well as the movie turning out to be the murderer.

The only good thing that one can say about "The Generals Daughter", in light of how it insulted and demeaned the US military, is that it was based on a not true story.
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Court martials all round
Critical Eye UK24 September 2000
The closed world of the US military is exposed pretty fearlessly here in a film which tackles serious issues of prejudice, victimisation, gratuitous sex 'n violence and . . .

Start over. The closed world of military life remains firmly shut here thanks to a film which trivialises serious issues of prejudice and victimisation via gratuitous sex 'n violence.

Risible, preposterous, and ultimately as exploitative as the one-dimensional villains it ostensibly portrays, "The General's Daughter" marks a new low in US film output.

Quite what Travolta thought he was getting mixed up in isn't at all clear, but then mysteries abound, not the least of 'em being the presence of writer William Goldman in the credits. (And as for Stowe, couldn't she sue someone -- anyone?)

Court martial the lot of 'em.
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"What is worse than rape?" "Betrayal."
Sean Arc16 July 1999

I just saw The General's Daughter (1999) yesterday. A really good movie, with an excellent cast, and a really thrilling plot.

The movie starts with Paul Brenner (John Travolta) who talks with a sort of "Texarino" accent. Later the story gives introduction to Elizabeth Campbell (Leslie Stefanson) who seems to be a nice woman with order and discipline. As the story goes on, we discover the nice woman gets raped and killed, and as the investigation about her murder starts, we start knowing that that woman is not as nice as she looked but she sure had a dominant personality and a dark past. The investigation given by Brenner (Travolta) and Sarah Sunhill (Madeleine Stowe) starts somehow confusing and as it keeps going it keeps getting less confusing. By when the plot is getting to its culminating moment we start getting behind the truth and discovering what really happened to/with the general's daughter.

This film has a really intriguing plot. It's amazing to know what a father would chose to do to her daughter in order to keep the good reputation of an organization. And it's amazing to know what a daughter would do to teach her father that some things can't just be forgotten. And it's also amazing to know how many people can be involved in one simple but really serious crime. We can just think that it's only about knowing who the victim is and finding out who the criminal is, but it's not just that.

In this movie we see how much many people know and how many are blamed. The General says, "Just find the son of a bitch." Brenner answers, "I will, sir." The story ends telling that just because you did not physically commit the crime, it does not mean you are not the son of a bitch.

The General's Daughter is a must-see film. It teaches, it blames, it makes you think, it entertains you. But more importantly, it shows you what's worse than rape. Elizabeth, the general's daughter, could forget that she was raped, could put aside that she was rape... but she couldn't forget and put aside that she was betrayed by her own father.

FILM EVALUATION: 9 out of 10. ***3/4 out of ****.


John Travolta is one of my favorite actors. I love the strong personality he gives to his characters. Face/Off (1997) is my favorite film from him, then Pulp Fiction (199?), The General's Daughter (1999), and Broken Arrow (199?). Some other films from him I like too, like Look Who's Talkin' (199?).

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Ham-fisted and overblown
openeyes23 February 2003
In "The General's Daughter," John Travolta plays Warrant Officer Paul Brenner, an army investigator assigned to find the murderer of army captain, Elisabeth Campbell (Leslie Stefanson), the daughter of a revered and politically-prominent three-star general, played by James Cromwell, in this thriller based on the bestselling novel by Nelson DeMille.

Captain Campbell was found nude and staked spread eagle on an explosives test range, an apparent victim of rape as well as murder. Before long, Travolta discovers that she aggressively explored the gamier side of human sexuality -- secretly taping herself having kinky sex with most of the officers at the base in the process. These tapes, which could destroy the careers of all the men involved, provide a powerful motive for murder. All the while, Travolta must contend with a fellow Warrant Officer and former flame, ably portrayed by Madeleine Stowe, who serves as a rape investigator for the Criminal Investigation Division.

For the most part, I have greatly enjoyed Travolta's work since his much-ballyhooed comeback in "Pulp Fiction." He brought an amiable, movie-star charisma to all of his roles -- including ones in less successful films like "White Man's Burden." Sadly, he isn't quite the man for this role. Physically, he is a tad too corpulent for role of a CID Warrant Officer, but it is his inconsistent accent proves to be the main problem. The film starts with him working undercover and employing a ridiculously overstated Southern accent. As soon as the plot allows, he abandons that accent for a gentler Southern accent which appears almost plausible until his character reveals he is a native of Boston! Then, about halfway through the film, he abandons that accent and simply talks like, dare I say, John Travolta.

The script, penned by Christopher Bertolini and Academy-Award winner William Goldman ("Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" & "All The President's Men,") provides many sharply-drawn moments. The scenes between Travolta and suspect James Woods have a crackling and unpredictable energy. The script also plays on the prior romantic entanglement of the two lead investigators without sliding into a predictable, Hollywood-style love story. Sadly, the ham-fisted, overblown style of director Simon West doesn't rise to the level of the script. West, best known for the more appropriately garish "Con Air," adds the worst excesses of commercial and music video filmmaking to this movie. All scenes of action or danger are telegraphed and undermined by ridiculously unmotivated lighting. The worst instance is the rape scene. While a character off camera tells what a dark night it was, we see lights blaring through every bush and low-flying helicopters shining spotlights on everything but the victim herself.

It is precisely this pivotal rape scene which ultimately undermines the credibility of the film. The director handles the incident with a gleeful gruesomeness. It is almost as if he intended to titillate as well as repulse us. West adds further insult to injury with idiotic end titles at the end of the film emphasing both the number of women in the military and their contribution -- as if this film will help end sexism and make their lives easier. Yeah. I'm sure it will. Especially that rape scene.

Where's "G.I. Jane" when you need it?
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Tasteless and stupid
DeeNine-222 August 2001
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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A Psychological Murder Mystery of the Rape of a Female Officer
Ezekielwheelwork29 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes a murder mystery is ruined by the red herrings that are thrown clumsily into a movie to keep the viewer guessing. The problem with this is that sometimes the red herrings are unrealistic and patronising. In my opinion there is nothing of the kind in this film; it cleverly trusts the intellectual perceptions of the viewer, doesn't condescend and can be watched on a variety of levels.

This has to be experienced though, it is very much an active film. The viewer knows that as the plot unravels there is a twist that has more or less been worked out by the cleverly crafted scripted dialogue. So when all is gradually revealed there is a sense of pride comes over the viewer that it was more or less worked out before the end but excitingly so; if not with a great deal of negative emotion and great sadness at the subject matter.

John Travolta plays a military investigator to a believable if not slightly charismatic degree. I particularly liked how the construct of the film establishes Travolta's character early on in the film as someone who can look after himself when an attempt is made on his life: it TELLS us that this guy is nobody's fool and can handle himself. When one of his superiors on the phone tells him to drop his cheesy southern accent Travolta quips back "Hey it's this cheesy Southern Accent that's keeping me alive!" Madeleine Stowe plays Travoltas investigative sidekick expertly well adding EXTRA tension to a script that already has the viewer on the edge of their seat. Since they both have had a past intimate relationship with each other there is the bitter-sweet interjections that one would expect in real life which adds further gritty realism to one of the most poignant subject matters one could think of.

That subject is rape. But this is no ordinary Rape and Murder. (what is?) The general's daughter who is herself highly intelligent makes an early and vital appearance in the film where she helps Travolta change a blown tire. This establishes, if not albeit briefly a chemistry between the general's daughter and Travolta which makes it more poignant when upon the crime scene she is discovered tied to the ground naked and apparently raped with the apparent cause of death, asphyxiation.

The Generals Daughter herself plays a complex character; her statement, "We **** with peoples minds" is funny until the script quickly unravels itself to the tearful conclusion that there CAN be things worse than rape. I am not going to mention what is worse than rape but I did cautiously include a spoiler warning in case it can be worked out via this review.

For me, this film explores the different rules that one establishment follows over an other: "The right way, the wrong way, and the Army way" And The daughter of the general's extracurricular activities, SHOCKING at first at least becomes understandable and lays bare why we sometimes act the way we do after terrible experiences.

I know someone very close to me. His mother was raped and he was the result; later in life he also was raped and the result for him? Let's just say that spiteful behaviour, bizarre behaviour, strange behaviour can and usually has a reason but its those reasons that are often missed to the detriment of the "victim" and those who interact with that "victim". This is where insight comes in useful and starkly warns us that sometimes NOT EVERYTHING IS AS WHAT IT SEEMS! The daughter of the general had an enemy worse than the men who raped her. It was that enemy that drove her to the "bizarre" behaviour which had its own logic albeit a twisted logic, it was that logic that for her, could be used against the enemy. Her behaviour and logic and extracurricular activities even begins to make sense to the viewer. As I mentioned previously the film can be watched on various levels and people take their experiences to a film and get there experiences confirmed and expanded. With this element in focus it reminds us that we humans as a social creation like to watch films: it is like reading; we read to know that we are not alone and that can be very comforting.

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I'm choking on cliches!
withnail-1113 January 2000
Ugh - this was AWFUL. Travolta mails in his performance as a maverick investigator, but the worst thing is the script, which is straight out of 1943. A whole lot of lofty speeches about the noble Army life (does anyone think like this, even Colin Powell?) and you're supposed to care? Got to say that Madeline Stowe still looks very good - I never thought she'd make a worse movie than "Revenge", but here it is.
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