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Overall Rating
2.65

Awesome: 7.25%
Worth A Look: 22.46%
Average: 26.81%
Pretty Bad: 15.22%
Total Crap28.26%

13 reviews, 60 user ratings


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General's Daughter, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Sadly, Travolta has more of these than 'Pulp Fiction's on his resume."
1 stars

Of the many questions swirling through my head after seeing "The General's Daughter," a lurid and ludicrous thriller, one question in particular stands out: Do the filmmakers think we're morons? We're certainly treated as such, right from the beginning.

A military officer (John Travolta) is called to investigate the murder of a young female captain. When he sees her face, he recognizes her -- and we do, too, because we've just seen him share two scenes with her. Yet the movie gives us a fleeting image of her from one of those scenes, as if we needed the reminder. Also, who else would we think it is? At this point, she's the only woman we've seen.

The movie doesn't trust us to make that connection, and it also thinks we're too dumb to make other connections that undermine the plot. The General's Daughter, based on a Nelson DeMille bestseller, never makes any sense. The characters (aside from Travolta's hero) exist only as red herrings. The young woman is found dead, naked, and bound spread-eagled in the middle of an army complex. Who put her there? Who killed her? Our natural desire to know gives the movie's first half a slight interest. But as the explanations pour in, like buckets of water drenching a mound of dirt, they just muddy the plot rather than clearing it up.

The young woman, as we might have guessed from the title, was the daughter of the army base general (James Cromwell). She also, apparently, had some rather colorful hobbies off duty, involving whips and chains. All this, and she's an expert in psychological warfare, too. The movie itself engages in psych warfare, flashing us with ugly images of the woman's past traumas, as if to explain both her kinks and her violent end, and as if she meant anything other than being a dead naked chick to titillate multiplex audiences.

Travolta is joined by a rape investigator, Madeline Stowe, who tries to keep her dignity despite having very little to do. She and Travolta often engage in the sort of verbal ping-pong cherished so much by co-scripter William Goldman, who never met a zinger he didn't like. Mostly, the snappy patter produces not laughter but impatience. Goldman does, however, write a deft scene between Travolta and James Woods, as the deceased's "mentor." Woods, amusing himself by batting his dialogue around as a cat toys with a mouse, is easily the best thing in the movie; he's also not around for long, but the film unwisely goes on without him.

Indeed, The General's Daughter continues to bore and insult us; the director, Simon West (Con Air), obviously thinks he's still working for Jerry Bruckheimer, and we get an early action scene -- involving Travolta, an angry soldier, and a boat propeller -- that seems to be tossed in so as not to lose us dummies in the audience. There is also an allegedly nail-biting climax in a mine field, which ends the only way such a formulaic thriller can end: the bad guy gets blown sky-high. Whoopee! Those who go to this movie expecting a serious military thriller had better be in the mood to laugh bitterly at their own expense.

The bitterest laugh comes at the very end, when a card informs us that "200,000 women are in the military." Well, what does that mean, given what we've just seen? Is the movie saying that atrocities perpetrated on female soldiers by male soldiers should be covered up so that women can continue to be allowed into the military? Or that women shouldn't be allowed into the military because things like this might happen?

None of this, of course, matters a damn, since the dead woman is meant only as a corpse to animate a contrived whodunit. That important-sounding card at the end is the final insult to our intelligence, and the final nail in the movie's coffin.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2052&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/29/06 08:41:15
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User Comments

8/06/14 lvhgac USA 2 stars
6/27/11 art a great mystery,Leslie Stefanson was Outstanding! 4 stars
6/05/10 User Name An unengaging thriller. 2 stars
11/12/08 PAUL SHORTT OFFENSIVELY VIOLENT, CASUALLY HEARTLESS, AND OFTEN CLUELESS AS TO HOW ROUTINE IT IS 1 stars
7/31/08 Annie viewed US on release. Australia when released. & the Rooster Crowed She Lied. Still awesome 4 stars
2/12/07 johnnyfog Ludicrous. Liked James Woods though 1 stars
3/25/06 R.W.Welch Cast does what it can with overblown, improbable whodunnit. 3 stars
3/11/06 Dillon Superbly acted with smart and snappy dialogue 4 stars
3/10/06 Dk Ok ish but never great 2 stars
12/06/05 J.D. Pittman III Travolta isn't bad. The whole movie put me on the edge of my seat/couch. 4 stars
8/16/05 ES Boring and bad, Mr. travolta you've done it again 1 stars
12/07/03 john well... it's absolutely terrible 1 stars
2/26/03 y2mckay Travolta a flabby mess, Stowe could be replaced by a mannequin. TG'sD had a nice rack tho! 2 stars
7/04/02 KMG It was boring. Travolta is getting old, pasty, and flabby. Fatigues can't hide that. 3 stars
5/21/02 Karen Moore John Travolta kicks ass! Too bad ass can't kick back! 1 stars
4/29/02 Francis How could they make such a mess of what should have been a really good story? 3 stars
2/01/02 Andrew Carden Travolta's Performance Is Stylish and Realistic. 4 stars
1/27/02 Lin Rainey Dark, moody..I liked it. Woods excellent as always. 4 stars
12/12/01 Charles Tatum Incompetent and offensive 1 stars
9/30/01 I'm just a random whore Fuck me 5 stars
6/19/01 Rampage i wll destroy anyone associated with this dipshit, including Blockbuster Video 1 stars
6/15/01 Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe Hope actors hated making it, cuz I sure hated watching it! 1 stars
5/28/01 sharkey Cliche-a-rama! I just saw it for the first time, and I could recite the script with it. 1 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L I liked the opening theme song. the rest was junk. 2 stars
3/23/01 Aruba Jon How can John T. have a southern accent when he's suppose to be from Boston 4 stars
7/15/00 Kakki Rainy/Snow day movie. Suspense and weird turn in the movie 4 stars
7/08/00 Terrie Smith Not a bad film for a rainy afternoon. Best performance comes from James Woods. 4 stars
4/09/00 EMagGaRony decent movie... 4 stars
3/19/00 Jed Travolta & woods save this from becoming trash. 2 stars
11/11/99 Chef ADogg Travolta filmed this right after playing Fat Bastard in AP2. 1 stars
11/11/99 ikkemotube woods is ok, travolta is a whitetrashsweatingbuda 3 stars
10/29/99 Bozo Nothing special and leaves a bad taste in your mouth - good perf by Woods, though 2 stars
10/21/99 H'Woodbigshot Hoolywood and the military, need any more be said? 1 stars
9/25/99 Costars Great performance by James Wood 3 stars
9/11/99 Timbo MEDIOCRE 3 stars
9/06/99 Weird Andy A waste of celluloid. Great music, though. 2 stars
8/26/99 Ami the Wonderbread Straight to cable fair 2 stars
8/15/99 Keith Aside from the tied up naked bitch this film is garbage. 1 stars
8/12/99 Steve Kelley John Travolta has become his own caricature. His only hope is Kotter: The Movie. 3 stars
8/02/99 beachlovr9 Very good movie and excellent acting 5 stars
8/02/99 JimBob a good piece of film until you find out it's for real, then it kicks ass 5 stars
8/01/99 Obi Wan A decent flick...good seeing Madelaine again..But an HBO Movie defn8ly 3 stars
7/27/99 David Kindred Travolta has some good lines. Don't think, just watch. 3 stars
7/22/99 Suzz spotted the killer the first time he appeared on screen. HO HUM .. 3 stars
7/19/99 jlgallardo If you like faces of death, you'll love this movie. 2 stars
7/17/99 Keith One more like this Travolta and you'll be doing "Welcome Back Kotter" reunion specials. 2 stars
7/04/99 dbx i liked it. i dont see how you can enjoy southpark, and then critiscize this. 5 stars
6/30/99 PhilmPhreak Made me want to tie myself to the ground and cry for daddy. 2 stars
6/29/99 kevin wood I read the book. It was great. The movie was kind of sleazy and nasty. 2 stars
6/28/99 Freyja Sick and voyeuristic, under a very thin varnish of nobility. 2 stars
6/28/99 Chris Gianaras Decent military thriller that gets bogged down at the end in a disappointing ending. 3 stars
6/27/99 Bram Bleich Entertaining (7) 4 stars
6/26/99 Dave Should be called the Swiss Cheese 2 stars
6/24/99 Rob The book was a lot better 3 stars
6/24/99 Tim very disappointed.... 1 stars
6/23/99 jvt I've never seen a movie with more helicopters in it 3 stars
6/22/99 Softserve Not bad. Best scene of a person getting blown up, ever! 4 stars
6/18/99 Mr Showbiz This lurid, misogynistic thriller doesn't even manage to be a guilty pleasure. 1 stars
6/18/99 Darrell Louder This movie was incredible, though lacking in the character development area, it is good 4 stars
6/16/99 David Awful, cliched story given some directorial flair & good perfs, but not enough to recommend 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  18-Jun-1999 (R)
  DVD: 14-Dec-1999

UK
  N/A

Australia
  04-Nov-1999




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