I really like John Travolta. He always plays that guy with the arrogance and cockiness, but it never seems old to me. In A Civil Action, he played a lawyer who just thought the world of himself. In The General’s Daughter, he still gets to play that character, but he has to go new places with it.
The General’s Daughter surrounds army cop Paul Brenner (John Travolta), and in a James Bond movie type style, he’s finishing up another case before the real story even begins. The real story comes into play when a woman is found on a military base staked spread eagle to the ground, naked, and very dead. This isn’t just any woman though. She is Captain Elizabeth Campbell, the daughter of famous General Joseph Campbell (James Cromwell). So what really happened? And of course the big question, who did it?
Could it be the General himself? The highly respected man who is about to get a vice president chair? Could it be nosy Colonel William Kent (Timothy Hutton)? What about the general’s personal aid Colonel Fowler (Clarence Willaims III)?
The best thing that this movie has for it is the fact that John Travolta, James Cromwell, James Woods and Timothy Hutton are in it. At this point of the year, James Woods has given the best acting I have seen in a supporting role. The camerawork is fantastic, shot by Con Air director Simon West. It gives a murky dark look at the military base and I love those shots where the camera is looking up from underneath their faces.
The General’s Daughter is creative, smart, clever and disturbing. I recommend it to anyone who likes a good murder mystery or an army picture.
Review by Matt Lawrence © 1999 filmcritic.com