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The General's Daughter

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The General's Daughter

Starring: John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe
Director: Simon West
Rated: R
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: June 1999
Genre: Thriller

*Also starring: James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton, Clarence Williams III, Boyd Kestner, Rick Dial, James Woods, Leslie Stefanson

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1.  Walter Frith review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  MrBrown read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
3.  Harvey Karten read the review ---
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5.  Greg King read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Walter Frith
1½ stars out of 4

Rather than making sharp independent productions with a low budget and high degree of skill like his 1994 comeback 'Pulp Fiction', John Travolta has chosen to embrace the big studio system of commercial enterprise and has only made two great movies since 'Pulp Fiction' and they are 1995's 'Get Shorty' and 'Primary Colors' in 1998 for which he should have received an Oscar nomination.

Travolta's latest disappointment is directed by Simon West ('Con Air) 'who has a dim eye for supporting characters in this film and structures his movie like a darkly trimmed and photographed structure of shadows that you would expect to find in a Tony Scott movie. In fact, you could throw out many of the supporting players in this flick with big names like James Woods, James Cromwell and Timothy Hutton and replace them with minimum wage actors and you couldn't tell the difference. The only thing that is worse than this muddled scenario is that the film's two leads (John Travolta and Madeline Stowe) don't have distinct sides to their personality and rather than look like investigators getting deep inside a murder case, they look more like chess players simply going through the moves.

Getting involved in the plot of 'The General's Daughter' is like meeting an old acquaintance somewhere in public that you weren't very fond of. You want to keep the encounter brief, you want to go on your way as soon as possible and you want to forget about it as soon as possible. Getting involved with this film's characters is like attending an open seminar at a large banquet centre where a business meeting is going on. You smile politely at others, you never get to know them and you'll be glad when it's all over.

With a screenplay by Christopher Bertolini and the masterful William Goldman (a major bust here), based on the novel by Nelson DeMille, 'The General's Daughter' attempts to cover familiar ground with a conclusion you won't care about and you won't want to tell others about it after you've seen the film with any great anticipation.

Travolta and Stowe play Paul Brenner and Sarah Sunhill. One is a warrant officer and the other a rape investigator who look into the matter of a young female army captain named Elisabeth Campbell (Leslie Stefanson) who has been murdered. Throughout the course of the investigation, they uncover many potential suspects, including the one they think is the most likely to have committed the crime, Colonel Moore (James Woods). There is even the suspicion that the general may have been the one responsible for his daughter's death with a high agenda for national political office and a cover-up that will save his chances at getting elected. It wouldn't make a difference if I did give away the ending because chances are you won't care about it. Remember 1992's 'The Bodyguard' where the assassin was actually a minor character that was given little or no focus in the film.......ditto here and that still gives nothing away because there are so many of them in 'The General's Daughter'.

Strangely, I felt that 'The General's Daughter' had a look and feel to it similar to 1990's 'Presumed Innocent'. The characters in that film, such as the prosecutors, the defence attorney and the wife of the accused were important but underwritten characters. Here, the same thing happens with the film's key players and the film has some rather goofy and amateur dialogue and situations where the characters think they're impressing those around them with their intelligence when in fact it's really synthetic and too obvious.

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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