A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There is an attempt to project the message that women can achieve anything, shouldn't be taken for granted, and deserve a voice when men try to silence them. However, while showing how women can have sexual agency (and surprise, surprise -- can change a tyre), the message is drowned in horrific repercussions of sexual violence and the clumsy representation of a woman's sexual preferences being a direct result of trauma.
Positive Role Models
Captain Elisabeth Campbell is set to be a positive role model with her intelligence landing her as a high-ranking, lone female captain. But her cruel fate negates this. Chief Warrant Officer Paul Brenner eventually simmers his cockiness and is determined to find justice for a rape victim. Colonel Slesinger and Colonel Fowler are both older Black men who are senior, seemingly noble men. Sara Sunhill is a highly-qualified military investigator who specializes in sexual crimes. She gives as good as she gets against Brenner's sass. But other characters are shown to be cold, ruthless, and responsible for horrific crimes and their subsequent cover-ups.
Women, although few, are shown in positions of authority and respect. However, they are used to flex lines of sexual banter at best, rape at worse. The film also contradicts itself by giving women agency when it comes to sex, only for it to be associated with past trauma. Two key characters are older Black men in positions of power.
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Violence & Scariness
A lurid rape scene is shown and flashbacks of the incident are repeated throughout -- prolonged shots of the dead naked body. Frequent gory scenes involve large machine guns, deadly explosions, and knives. A boat propeller is used as a weapon causing a bloody mess to a someone's body. Two suicides are seen; a character shoots themselves in the head at close range and another is blown up using a landmine.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A sex tape is seen involving consensual sadomasochism. A character asks another out on a date using gifts. Two characters refer to an affair they once had.
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Language includes "bitch," "f--k," "motherf----r," "a--hole," "bulls--t," and verbal threats and discussions of rape.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters frequently smoke cigars and cigarettes. Drinking of wine at a celebration event. Characters occasionally drink spirits.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The General's Daughter is a mystery thriller with a very graphic rape scene, sex tapes, murder, suicides, guns, blood, and language. John Travolta stars as Chief Warrant Officer Paul Brenner who is investigating the rape and murder of the daughter of a high-ranking general, played by James Cromwell. The movie attempts to tackle the weighty issue of sexual violence and discrimination of women in the army, but fails. The rape scene is very traumatic, with the film revisiting the scene in flashback throughout. There are also a number of gory deaths, some a result of suicide. One person shoots themselves in the head and another deliberately steps on a mine. A sex tape is discovered as part of the investigation and shows the participants engaging in bondage. Variants of "f--k," "bitch," "s--t," and more are heard throughout, and details of the rape are discussed explicitly. Characters are also shown smoking, both cigarettes and cigars. The film is based on the novel by Nelson DeMille and directed by Simon West best known for cult classic Con Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A hodgepodge of genres and a gratuitous, recurring, and haunting rape scene make this late 1990s crime mystery memorable for all the wrong reasons. The General's Daughter's attempt to present an expose of sexism in the military is clumsy at best and as subtle as a chainsaw.
When not trying to shove us into some unearned glum messages, the movie has some sparks of personality thanks to the wisecrack charm of Travolta and steeliness of Cromwell. Other than that, it's just a bit monstrous.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.