General's Daughter(SE)/C,A-

Paramount/1999/116m/ANA 2.35

        The General's Daughter is a consistently annoying murder mystery. It looks so good and the slick photography of Peter Menzies, Jr. makes the surroundings glossy and exciting. Too bad the script is so lame.
     John Travolta plays Warrant Officer Paul Brenner, a military investigator with a bulldog attitude and a hefty dose of insipid charm. Brenner is introduced as an undercover sergeant with a mushy Southern accent is an opening that serves to identify his character as an formidable professional. The material seems hastily thrown together. It's a relief when The General's Daughter gets on track with the meat and potatoes , but the meal is thoroughly disappointing. 

And the killer is......©Paramount

     Brenner teams with Army rape investigator Sara Sunhill played by Madeleine Stowe. As the pair dig into the mystery, a pathetic sub-plot tries to add a touch of romance to the simmering potboiler, but it fails to bring up the tepid nature of the material. Brenner and Sunhill go through the motions as everyone around them wants to cover up the death of the general's daughter. General Campbell has political ambitions to consider. His loyal dog of an assistant, Colonel Fowler, is busy clearing his path. Mix in an MP Colonel to get in the way and the dead girl's kinky commanding officer, and you have a overflowing stew of mis-matched ingredients. How many colonels does it take to screw up a movie?         Some scenes are more embarrassing than others. The initial confrontation between Brenner and Colonel Moore includes dialogue more suitable to a pair of bickering lovers than a detective and a suspect in a murder mystery. There are other dialog nightmares. Brenner makes a speech about his Vietnam commander that is totally out of place, but as Simon West explains it on the commentary, was needed to explain Brenner's admiration for General Campbell.  
    The huge pool of acting talent play it like  harried rush hour workers racing to the subway on an ice pond. I can imagine them flailing their hands in panic desperately trying to get off the set of The General's Daughter. Travolta is stiff and Stowe, for the first time I can remember, fails be emanate sexual fire. James Woods plays Colonel Moore, Clarence Williams III is Colonel Fowler and Timothy Hutton is Colonel Kent. Only James Cromwell as General Campbell manages to survive the terrible material.      This DVD looks good enough to walk right into. Nights blacks are rich, creamy, slick and high key. The sharp images create an incredible depth to the picture. There is slight edge enhancement is some long shots, but otherwise The General's Daughter is very clean. The soundtrack packs the wallop the film is missing. You can't cover up script faults the size of the San Andreas with snappy photography and lively scoring. 
     Simon West does the audio commentary on this special edition DVD. Four deleted scenes are included and a by the numbers behind the scenes short. 

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