In the Valley of Elah - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

In the Valley of Elah Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 27, 2008
Super Reviewer
November 11, 2008
Not bad. From the cover, I expected a war movie, and didn't think I would be able to sit through it, but actually it was more of a mystery story, dealing with a father searching for his missing soldier son.
Though initially I found the ending anti climatic and vague, the more I thought about it and how the effects of war must warp your mind , I came to respect what they were trying to say here.
Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron are both outstanding here.
Super Reviewer
May 23, 2012
A fairly decent film with a great performance from Theron, however I just wasn't too bothered about what happened. I couldn't really empathise with Hank as much as I would have liked and was just waiting for it to be over really. I didn't feel there was much mystery and it just didn't affect me.
Super Reviewer
December 3, 2011
In the Valley of Elah is powerful drama film. Directed by Crash director Paul Haggis, In the Valley of Elah is a stunning drama film with a great cast of talented actors. Haggis has directed yet another fine film. After his son goes AWOL, Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to find out what happened. A determined detective (Theron) is on the case to find out what happened. In the Valley of Elah is a solid drama film with a great cast and brilliant directing from Paul Haggis. Aside from Crash, Haggis yet again shows the audience how talented a director he is, and I have to say, In the Valley of Elah is a film worth seeing, and the performances and story make this film worth watching. Tommy Lee Jones is very convincing in the part he plays, and he steals the show. Jones is a phenomenal talent of an actor, and he was very well cast in the part he played here. I very much loved his performance. If you love Paul Haggis' work, then definitely check out In the Valley of Elah, this is a powerful film that has some terrific performances, and is a definite must see. Haggis' plot unfolds very well, steadily developing the drama, and making you more interested in the story. I very much enjoyed the film thought it had a brilliant story and cast, and if you're looking for a memorable drama film, then this film is for you. Paul Haggis has made another memorable film worth watching, and with a cast like this, you really can't pass up on this one.
Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2007
Slow but really interesting investigation thriller about a father who's son goes missing only days after his return from the war in Iraq. Tommy Lee Jones does well as grumpy ex-soldier who is ready to do what it takes to find the truth, Charlize Theron has never been prettier as cop on his side. While the film starts out pretty dark already, the picture it is painting as more and more backgrounds are revealed is increasingly gloomy. That does not make for easily-consumed crime entertainment, but has quite a few things to say about the mental state of soldiers and the results of war. The final frame is accordingly disenchanthing: there's something rotten in the US of A.
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2009
Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, James Franco, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon, Josh Brolin

Tommy Lee Jones in another great performance. The movie is about an retired officer of the army investigating the death of his son Tucker who went AWOL after coming back from Iraq. He gets help from a female detective who is played by Charlize Theron. There is a lot of covering up, and no one wants to tell the truth. The whole movie is a build up to the ending which will leave you feeling disgusted, sympathy for the convicted, and heartbroken for the dead boys family. The movie is disturbing, and shows us what it is like for the soldiers and their families when they have come back from war. Susan Sarandon, although not having that much screen time in this movie is amazing with just the little bit of screen time she was given. You can feel her grief. Those who are for the war may be left feeling indifferent about it after watching this film. It's definitely shows the downfall of going to war, and has you sympathizing for the soldiers and their families even more so now then before. Great movie and great performances.
Super Reviewer
June 1, 2009
An interesting film. Tommy Lee Jones plays Hank, a father who receives a disturbing phone call from his soldier son who has gone AWOL after returning from Iraq. Hank travels to the base and finds out that the son has been murdered, and gets involved with solving who did it.

I thought the acting was superb - Jones was nominated for an academy award. Theron (who plays a cop) also is great as the level-headed rookie investigator.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2009
An original murder mystery that features a dynamic performance from Tommy Lee Jones, proving once again why he is one of the best actors around. The story is brutal and full of sorrow, but Haggis avoids going down a road marked with cliches and coincidence, instead he invents something new and creative. The supporting cast is equally strong, with Theron giving one of her best performances as a cop who decides to help Jones out. The ending holds an image that, if you think of what it means, is both devastating and haunting, and will leave a mark on you.
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2008
Better-than-average drama about a father desperately searching for the truth about his soldier-son's death. As you watch the movie, the story and ending become more and more apparent and guessable, but it's still pretty good anyway. Jones is great in this, but he was better in No Country.
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2008
Police detective drama about a veteran father who goes looking for his son who has gone AWOL upon his return from the Iraq war. Film's exploration on the toll war has on the soldiers that return home, is anchored by Tommy Lee Jones heartfelt and honest performance.
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2008
Such star power, Theron, Jones, Surandon, coupled with a compelling story, and yet, somehow it felt TVish in many regards.

The entire relationship between Jones, a former MP sargent looking for his awol son, and Theron's put upon female detective begs for better treatment. Sure, she sees in the injustice of this case her own battles against a male run department of good old boys who want nothing more than to collect a pay check; but inviting Jones into her homelife to such an extent seemed off, as if a writting contrivance to get Theron more into the film. Her performance makes it all the more an iffy proposition, as she comes off a bit too wrote.

Compare this to Surandon, who has a small role and totally disappears during the second half of the film, but nonetheless you never get the feeling that she was written into the film. Her part was superflous and yet the most powerful part of the film, showing a military mothers' acceptance of her role, and all the accompanying grief that follows. A great bit of filming was her looking through the open blinds at her son's remains, and then the military liason, whose mouth is blocked by a blind (subliminal imagery, yes!) denying her access to the room.

When Jones informs her of her 2nd son's demise and she begins to cry, he tells her that he can't keep listening to her sob on the phone like that; so she tells him not to listen and throws the phone across the room as she collapses into a corner. Powerful stuff, and a necessary juxtaposition to Jones' who carries his stiff upper lip to the extreme.

Jone's only reacts in true anger once, when demanding to see the body of his son, but otherwise is a study in military discipline, keeping his cool even while being screwed by the the very military that he dedicated his life to.

The film comes off as a well plotted mystery with a strong central charactor to anchor it, but the handling of Theron seemed too simple and hollywood - better writing would have not only made her charactor more real, but have raised the stakes of the film.
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2008
I didn't know much about this film before I saw it but heard critics and fans a like giving great reviews about it. A father and former part of the military police goes in search of his son who has gone AWOL after returning home from Iraq.
This is a great film, with a very good cast giving great performances especially Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. It touches on quite a few political views about the army and war in Iraq and the effects it can have. A truly moving film based on true events.
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2008
This film is loosely based off a true story... I say loosely because after watching this movie I was compelled to do some research about the true events. What I found was that the movie misrepresented the true story drastically.

Leave it to Hollywood to take a sad story and claim to pay "homage" to this misfortuned soldier and his family by telling the world what really happened... yet the end result is a film that chronicles nothing about the true events. Damn you Hollywood....

Had I not found out about this, I would've given this movie much higher accolades. Hell, they didn't even use the victim's real name in the movie! The way in which he was killed, and even the motives were all completely different. The only resemblance the film holds to the real event is that a soldier who returned from Iraq was killed by his fellow soldiers. I won't go into any more details because I dont' want to spoil the movie for anyone.

If you can go into this movie knowing it's not based on a true story, you might be able to enjoy it more. Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron were excellent together in this film. Susan Sarandon was amazing as well. This film is a thriller and will leave you guessing to the end... but for me at least, all the good things I liked about this movie were completely deflated when I found out the truth about the events.

Still a solid film, and worth a watch, especially if you enjoyed other war-based dramas like Stop Loss or Home of the Brave.
Super Reviewer
July 22, 2008
OMG powerful moving and excellant i thought it was really good theres a bit of politics in it really and that made it really good great performances but not tommy lee jones finest performance really it was funny moving and really hits you and the americian film makes it mark at the end of the film dont wanna ruin it but watch it carefully really good!
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2008
Earnest, serious portrayal of the effects of war which offers meaty roles for Jones and Theron but the basic premise feels well trodden.
Super Reviewer
March 31, 2008
A politically charged drama with an extraordinary performance by Tommy Lee Jones.

The movie is very slow but I never found it dull or anything. Just Jones' performance makes it worth a look. You can feel his suffering and the guilt of losing his son.

The story is based on a true story. It gets you interested from the very first minutes. It is a moving story and the political aspect (US war in Iraq, Afganistan...) is shown thru the eyes of young kids who get affected by war in harmful ways.
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2008
An updated meditation on the horror of war and the toll it takes on those involved, from the soldiers themselves, to their loved ones and their communities. This might have been a stronger story if the two focal points -- the father's investigation of his son's post traumatic stress related Iraq "murder mystery" and the female police detective's struggle for respect in a male dominated profession -- had not taken turns competing for screen time. No offense to Charlize Theron, but her story -- which is a very important one as well -- really did not need to be told in the context of this movie. It was worth a movie all by itself and actually served to badly water down the more central story here of Tommy Lee Jones' son's post-Iraq tour of duty murder.
Super Reviewer
October 6, 2007
Great performances in a tragic tale of the cost of war.
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2007
Tommy Lee Jones gives a strong, compelling, passionate and unforgettable performance. This is possiably the best performance of his career. Charlize Theron is stunning. A brilliant cast of actors who deliver powerhouse performances. Director, Paul Haggis has yet again crafted an emotionally gripping masterpiece. An engaging, complex and enduring thriller. Deeply moving, powerful and unforgettable. A well-crafted and hard-hitting mystery. Your on the edge of your seat every step of the way in this heart-wrenching film. Heart-breaking and breathtaking. It's dazzeling and emotionally enduring. It feels like a strike of lightning right to the heart. A terifficly entertaining and suspenseful movie. Gripping, thrilling, shocking and surprisingly satisfying. An excellently excuted and movingly told story.
Super Reviewer
March 24, 2008
A bit like a double-long CSI episode, this film features strong performances by Charlize Theron and Tommy Lee Jones and tells a solid, "this could be anyone" soldier story about returning from the Iraq war. Jones is particularly impressive, garnering the film's well-deserved but only Oscar nomination, and while I wouldn't say it was a spectacular movie, it is definitely in line with what we've come to expect from London, Ontario native Paul Haggis. I can see two reasons why it might not have gotten a lot of Oscar buzz: (1) it's a bit formulaic, even if good, and (2) it's critical of the Iraq war. While the Academy has made a point of throwing the anti-war movement a bone in the documentary category, artistic treatments of this war and its repercussions seem to be snubbed year in and year out. Though I prefer to tell myself that the former reason is why no one really noticed this film in 2007, I'd recommend that you check it out and test the theory for yourself.
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