A military police investigator looks into the murder of a prominent
general's daughter, whose personal demons have been covered up for years.
The General's Daughter (1999)
Directed by Simon West
Written by Christopher Bertolini and William Goldman
Starring John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe, James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton, Leslie Stefanson, James Woods, Clarence Williams III
Based on the novel by Nelson DeMille
I love a good murder mystery, and despite the film being a substantial box office smash back in 1999, The General's Daughter never left the late 90s thanks to an evisceration by critics. I simply don't get what they didn't see. This film is a poignant reflection on the unfortunate misogynistic horseshit that women in the military are dealt by insecure, petty, evil little men. The events in this film are fictional, but they are inspired by real-life nightmares and worst case scenarios. If you know me at all, you know I have a soft spot for John Travolta, who leads this highly intriguing mystery with a gusto I wish he still had.
Captain Elizabeth Campbell (Stefanson) is found raped and murdered on the base she commanded. Her father is the highly respected General Campbell (Cromwell), who is about to throw his hat in the ring for the presidency. He charges CID Officer Paul Brenner (Travolta) with finding his daughter's murderer, and Paul uncovers a sea of cover-ups beginning with Elizabeth's gang rape when she was at West Point. It's a tough watch at times, and the film doesn't hold back on its condemnation of the military for letting cases like this fall through the cracks all the time. In fact, the military refused to endorse the movie because of it.
The General's Daughter is undeserving of the hate it's gotten since its release. It's one of Travolta's better performances, I think, and while it's icky to see Timothy Hutton starring in a movie about rape after his allegations, the rest of the cast performs admirably (particularly James Woods in a slimy role). I think it's worth revisiting.