In the Valley of Elah - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

In the Valley of Elah Reviews

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½ January 1, 2017
Gross, dramatic and mesmerizing.
December 19, 2016
I was reluctant to see this as I'm not a big fan of Paul Haggis and the ridiculous stereotyping of Los Angeles he did in Crash. Given that Haggis is British, I was reluctant to see another European projection and critique of America that would be oversimplifying and cliche, but Mark Boal (Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) was a contributing writer and that is the only reason I decided to watch the film, and I was thoroughly surprised. The cast is amazing - and surprisingly believable performances from all the actors, including the shorter performances of all the soldiers at the base. The restraint exercised by the actors in the characters they portray is what really makes the acting superb and realistic. I watched it twice; the second time around Theron's character becomes a bit annoying; and the ending of the upside down flag is a bit corny, but the rest of the cast, and the balance of a somber tone combined with the calculating process of uncovering of a murder surprisingly strikes the perfect key.
December 16, 2016
Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron star in one of the best films ever!
½ December 12, 2016
"In the Valley of Elah" is a crime-solving drama that focuses more on the drama than the action. Part of my unimpressed reception of the film could be due to the number of fast-paced thrillers that I have been watching lately. The investigative portions of the film are very interesting but the entire thing is so slow-paced that it seems like a lot of waiting for each little discovery. I realize that the theme of the film is post-traumatic stress disorder and not the investigation itself, but the lack of action really makes it tough to wait for the next thing to happen. The story is a complete downer with constant anti-war sentiments, so be ready for that when you start watching. Even the score is two hours of sad violin music. Tommy Lee Jones is okay in this purposely emotionless role but it doesn't have the luster that we expect from an Oscar nominee. Charlize Theron has a few moments, though many of them become too drawn out as we're waiting for the next thing to happen. Susan Sarandon, James Franco, and Josh Brolin are completely underutilized and I couldn't really even figure out why they were in this film (unless they just wanted to be a part of the film's political statement). The casting directors would have done better to save money and cast unknowns for the two minutes of screentime that each of these characters received. "In the Valley of Elah" is a decent drama with a few interesting crime twists, but the purposeful desensitized emotions of the characters cause it to plod along to its slow and dismal ending.
November 11, 2016
In the Valley of Elah is a mesmerizing film. It is about a retired military investigator who works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son's disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq. Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sanrandon give excellent performances. The screenplay is well written. Paul Haggis did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama and history. In the Valley Elah is a must see.
July 11, 2016
If the movie didn't portray EVERY cop (other than Theron) as the stereotypical overweight, mid-50s, donut eating, sexist, dumb-ass, and EVERY soldier as former wide-eyed, pimply-faced kid forced to the military either to run from the law or pushed in by their repressive ex-military father (Jones) and NOW suffer some form of PTSD, it might be a pretty good movie. However, the constant march of uniformed men with guns hiding the truth behind the system, beating their dogs and girlfriends, committing suicide, torturing prisoners, killing innocent kids and killing each other got a bit obnoxious. Even Tommy Lee's character channels a little "former-military-man-that-can't-control-his-anger" and gives Theron a raccoon face.

I'm surprised TLJ didn't jump into soliloquies about WMDs, Halliburton, or Bush or the evil puppet master, Dick Chaney.

Could have been a good movie, but left me thinking more about how anti-military the theme was.
June 27, 2016
 Elah follows Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones) in search of his son who has gone AWOL after returning from Iraq.  Soon we learn his son wasn't AWOL but was murdered.  With the help of Detective Emily Sanders (nearly unrecognizable Charlize Theron) he unfolds the truth about his son's murder.  The horrors of war are experienced second hand through son Mike's videos and photos.  Jones's stoic Hank comes across masterfully as he still performs rituals practiced in the Army.  It's easy to see why he was nominated for an Oscar.  Even second hand the horrors of war are not easy to experience. But this film though difficult to watch at times is one I think you need to see.
June 20, 2016
Liked this movie pretty much foremost because of the authentic performances by Tommy Lee Jones as a grieving father and Charlize Theron as a detective who is not afraid to sacrifice her beauty for the role (the feature of a true actress). And of course for the detective theme with its dark locations, bleak cinematography and hard to deal with themes.
April 20, 2016
One of the most relevant movies I have seen in a long time. Committed acting. Taking risks to tell a story that must be told. Bush paints, mothers and fathers grieve. Such arrogance.
½ January 10, 2016
1/2016 with Kel at home.
Decent sorry, but not that suspenseful. Interesting, but...
December 23, 2015
Army guy say: we did it for you! Yeah right, this line is comic relief. The army is forming psychopaths to become killing machines. Whether they do any good is dubious, especially in Iraq, and other countries. Cruel killing machines is what they become for the group of buddies back from Iraq. The chasm between the war narrative and what they go through and actually do is eating their entrails. Rightfully so, I would say. Excellent performances by all. Hopefully, englishes will stop thinking they are the hero police of the world. Their solutions are worse than the disease.
The true story that the film is inspired by, is much more complex. It is still psychopaths killing but would be motivated more. The whole life story of the victim and his dad could be put to screen in a TV serie. The dad went to vietnam and married an asiatic woman, so his story could be rich. His son was bullied in school and in the army. He probably witnessed several war crimes his fellow soldiers did, and maybe he did himself.
December 3, 2015
This movie says more than Hurt Locker or Sniper. Anyone who questions what we are doing to our children in the military must see this "sleeper".
November 17, 2015
11/16/15 Captivating and emotional fact based drama a Vietnam war vet and career serviceman who goes on a quest to find his soldier son who disappeared after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq
November 14, 2015
Mixed feelings about this film but it has a strong cast, overall thought provoking story, but felt long and very unsatisfying in the end.
October 9, 2015
An absolute moral and cinematic triumph. This is one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen.
September 5, 2015
A bit slow, rather ham-fisted, but at least honourable.
Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2015
An excellent film. The acting that Tommy Lee Jones, and particularly Charlize Theron, do in this film is nothing short of phenomenal. I'm so glad that I watched was a real gem.
May 6, 2015
Jones and Theron adds character exploration to this interesting drama with a good story and stern direction.
½ April 12, 2015
Watchable and well made film showing how the lives of modern day war are effected by the Iraq war. Certainly worth watching if you're into that. It was made without doubt for people who have been involved directly or indirectly with the war in Iraq/Afghanistan.

Tommy Lee Jones as ever does a great job and the film has a story, however if you're not interested in the Iraq conflict then give it a miss. I'm not particularly interested in the Iraq war but even so it wasn't a bad watch as it was well made.
March 22, 2015
Murder mystery about corruption of the souls of US soldiers occupying Iraq.
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