At the end of The General’s Daughter, there are title cards about how many women are now in the military. But the movie is about a rape and a coverup, not about equality for women. My guess is that the filmmakers realized their final product was pretty sexist (a rape flashback is shown in vivid detail, which would be okay if it weren’t gratuitous), and tried to pretend that it was about women’s issues.
This movie could have been pretty good if it had retained its focus. John Travolta, and Madeleine Stowe, two military investigators, team up to solve an apparent murder. It had all the elements of a good murder mystery. The first half of the film was pretty engaging. But some stupid, bad decisions were made that dragged the whole thing down.
First of all, the title character was written to be “tough” — she’s semi-sadistic and changes tires. But Leslie Stefanson was cast in the role, and she cannot pass for tough. Her uniform just did not fit. Some of the sets were too stagily crafted, like Elizabeth’s basement, or a pier under water at night. And finally, the director and/or producer worked in some female nudity by way of a rape scene, then added the title cards at the end, ostensibly to defend itself against charges of sexism.
There are some redeeming qualities. James Woods electrifies the few scenes he’s in without stealing the show. Also, some songs on the soundtrack are modernized historical recordings of cajuns singing. The songs are haunting and beautiful, and they seem to fit well with a dark, foreboding murder mystery.
But all in all if you miss this one, you won’t miss much.