When was the last time you saw a movie about a murder when the investigator didn't end up working with their ex-girl-or boyfriend? In The General's Daughter, Brenner's one-time true love, Warrant Officer Sara Sunhill (Stowe), turns up while the spread-eagled corpse of Liz Campbell is still warm. Will they? Won't they? And why are death and romance always so rudely shoved together?
Consequently, The General's Daughter succeeds in entertaining without ever straining so hard that it's innovative or imaginative. It throws up a load of usual suspects, takes the investigators on a gaggle of wild goose-chases, lets them prove how clever they are and finally rumbles towards an Agatha Christie show-down with the guilty parties. Switch your brain off or go see it with a thumping hangover and you might not work out who dunnit. But if you stop to think about it for just a moment...
As with most genre pictures, it's not the conclusion that's so important, it's the getting there - and here the movie does a fine job.
Back to at least his Pulp Fiction weight, Travolta's good value as he waddles between crime scenes. The screenplay from Christopher Bertolini and William Goldmannot only stays true to Nelson DeMille's novel, but is so refined that every line advances the plot, every scene spills out new revelations. Loyalties are shown, twisted and then broken as - wouldn't you know it - nothing is what it first appears.
The most obvious suspect (in terms of guilt and entertainment value) is Colonel Moore (Woods), the dead woman's commanding officer in the psychological operations department. "We fuck with people's heads," he smirks to Travolta, and then goes on to prove his point with a twisting, innuendo-laden conversation that is the highpoint.
Overall The General's Daughter is good but it's not great one to rent rather than catch on the big screen. Although the rape element makes for more horrifying viewing than your average murder mystery, it's too much of what we've seen before.
Director Simon West ensures the pace never lags and the air is always full of helicopters as Travolta and Stowe do a single-cop's worth of investigating. The plot twists keep you guessing, but you can easily afford to wait for the video.