Question: What do you do when you have an average storyline with too many sub-plots and clichéd twists? Answer: Get an A-list ensemble cast to take the focus away from the actual story.
First, I'd like to say that the movie is worth watching, especially if you're flicking through the channels on TV and it happens to be playing. It tackles the issues of female abuse in the military, corruptness of military officials, and ultimately betrayal between father and daughter. Unfortunately these themes have been explored to death in many other films, and this film does little to improve on the subject matter.
John Travolta, a cocky but smart military cop with an extreme dislike for authoritative figures, leads an investigation into the death of a female military officer. As events unfold, he finds out that things aren't what they seem (what a surprise!) and that a massive cover-up has been put in place by the woman's father, a general in army, about the fact that she was gang-raped 7 years ago.
The rape scene is brutal and powerful and you will land up hating all military people, which is exactly the reason why her father tried to cover up her rape. It is completely implausible that a father would cover up his own daughters brutal rape to avoid, what is ultimately, bad press.
Travolta is favorite of mine but he plays his character too tongue-in-cheek, considering the subject matter. Although he is extremely entertaining, I get the feeling that he plays it lightly because he's not able to play the roles seriously. He's just not a dramatic actor and I kept waiting for him to say stuff like "cool baby".
James Woods, a powerhouse actor if given the right opportunity, is unfortunately given a small role, although crucial to the plot. The witty remarks between him and Travolta are really what make this film worth watching.
The ultimate baddie in this film is the general, played by the same actor that played the corrupt police captain in L.A Confidential. They're basically the same type of characters...corrupt and powerful. For me this was a give-away as soon as I saw him because he always plays the bad guy. Is there a more type-casted actor? He's also not particularly a powerful actor, nor was his character interesting. They could have made him a lot more intimidating...like Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men. At the end you're just not sure if he was a good father who made a bad decision or a corrupt general who made a good decision.
There are many characters and scenes in this move that have no real purpose. The fight scene in the beginning of the movie when Travolta is attacked by some guy that he's been investigating is not necessary. Travolta just laughs at the situation, makes a few witty remarks and leaves. The general's loyal assistant who helps him cover up the rape. has no input to the movie or storyline. The ultimate no-needer is Madeleine Stowe's character. She seems to exist just to give male viewers something to look at other than guys in army uniforms. Her character has no depth nor enough lines in the movie. Everything she uncovers could have been done by Travolta's character.
The film is engaging although disappointing in the end. In the last few minutes, Travolta's character threatens to court-martial the general and following a few witty remarks, the general leaves. I can't help thinking that the movie should have centred around the court-martial instead of the actual crimes. It would have made a much bigger impact as a court-room drama then as a second-rate criminal investigation. It just feels like another episode of CSI: Miami.
It's watchable only because of the A-list cast, also including Madeleine Stowe and Timothy Hutton. Ultimately the movie hinges on John Travolta's charm, not his acting, to pull it off. I