The General's Daughter


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The General's Daughter
"The casting is so unimaginative that you know who the dodgy characters are by checking the names on the billboard."

John Travolta can walk through movies now and still pick up $20 million. As warrant officer Paul Brenner he has to look concerned, run 50 yards (that must have been hard, the condition he's in) and keep his hands off the girl. Madeleine Stowe, one of Hollywood's great underused talents (she's underused here again), is Sarah Sunhill, an army detective of some kind, drafted in to solve the murder of the general's daughter (Leslie Stefanson).

The casting is so unimaginative that you know who the dodgy characters are by checking the names on the billboard. The killing itself is bizarre, in a let's-humiliate-women-and-make-it-look-kinky way, the body staked naked in mud on an army base, bruised and strangled. No evidence of rape, however. Brenner and Sunhill investigate.

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It is obvious fairly soon they are treading in A Few Good Men's footsteps, where the options are perfectly clear: "The right way, the wrong way and the army way". As a cover-up scenario, it is heavy-handed. As a cop flick, it is a non-starter. As a titillating piece of S&M, snuck in beneath the disguise of a whodunit, it is a tease.

The plot bogs down in psychological flashback to explain the complexity of its outcome, as if it needs all this to show a beautiful woman pegged out like a Red Indian sacrifice. The general (James Cromwell) and colonels (Timothy Hutton, Clarence Williams III, James Woods) are either stereotypical ramrods, or daft as brushes. Studying Travolta's face is more enlightening. He could play a hamster without make-up.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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The General's Daughter packshot
A warrant officer investigates the bizarre murder of a woman, whose body is left staked out on an army base.
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Director: Simon West

Writer: Christopher Bertolini, William Goldman

Starring: John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe, James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton, Leslie Stefanson, James Woods

Year: 1998

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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