Projections - Movie Reviews

The General's Daughter

When Colonel George Fowler (Clarence Williams III) (who finally gets a decent part) says "There are three ways of doing things: the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way", we know there is something very wrong with the command under General "Fighting Joe" Campbell (James Cromwell).  Fighting Joe is rumored to be the leading candidate for Vice President and early in the film he gives a MacArthur style speech to cheering cadets at his alma mater a week before he plans to retire.  His bright brilliant career contrasts with the dark impressive Don Corleone style office from which he carries out business.

While pomp and circumstance swirl around her father, Captain Elisabeth Campbell (Leslie Stefanson) changes a tire for Paul Brenner (John Travolta), and shortly afterward is brutally murdered.  Her body is found bound and staked out in the middle of a training field in what appears to a ritualistic position.  Sarah Sunhill (Madeleine Stowe) joins Brenner to investigate the murder and to resolve the matter in few days before it falls from Army control.

Surrounded by spectacular visual images which exceed the tone of the film Travolta and Stowe appear to be moving in dream sequences as they begin to beat back the resistance which is never hidden by the military.  James Woods is the tragic Colonel Moore who shows his love for the stunning Captain Campbell in a bazar and peculiar manner.  He brings the first lead to the investigators.

Just as the script begins to drain and become mundane it quickly wakes itself up either with a stunning revelation or interesting reactions by the performers.  The most powerful and emotional scene comes in a flashback in which a young West Point Cadet discovers a rape victim, the emotion displayed in his eyes and on his face are more telling than the revelation of the damage done to the young woman.

With everything obvious early on, it's not the mystery and discovery that carry the film, it's the trail that Travolta and Stowe are forced to travel to determine what happened, who caused it and why this very successful young female officer has placed herself into a position which can only lead to tragedy, that focus the film and hold interest.

Power, sex, rape and ambition drive The General's Daughter and we are left in the end with disgust, discouragement, and optimism at one man's courage.

The General's Daughter


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