2000s

Published on June 17th, 2008 | by Chris

0

In The Valley of Elah (2007)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On June 17, 2008
Last modified:October 6, 2012

Summary:

take all the proposed rhetoric about Iraq out of The Valley of Elah, and its a really solid piece. But to put it all in there is just confusing and at best a plot device that we just didn't need. The entire stream of 'decoded' cell phone videos just serve to muddle the picture

In The Valley of Elah (2007)As we learn in the film, in the Biblical parlance, the Valley of Elah is where the infamous battle between David and Goliath took place. I'm not exactly sure what the relevance of that to the movie, In The Valley of Elah is, except maybe in reference to the main character, Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones)

But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here. Elah follows Deerfield as he searches for his son, Mike Deerfield, who has gone AWOL after returning from a tour in Iraq. The search turns into a murder mystery, as we discover his horribly mutilated remains in a field. Helping with the investigation is the mediocre rural detective Emily Sanders (Charlize Theron.)

War Movie? No. Classify this under murder/detective mystery more than anything. However, I think that the folks who made the movie intended for this to be some kind of statement. *That* little effort, in my not so humble opinion, falls flat on its face. Seen purely in that light, it goes from one extreme to the other and then back again. From 'honor our troops!' to 'the US is wrong' to 'war is hell' to 'our soldiers are animals' and then falls somewhere in the "unfavorable" light as we end the film with Deerfield hanging the flag his son sent him upside down as a signal of distress. Whether that's supposed to be Deerfield's or all of us collectively I'm not sure.

It's also unclear to me how the now deceased Deerfield's unfortunate events ultimately play into his death, and the plot in general. Not to spoil it, but he accidentally does something that he can't live with, and it just doesn't line up with the manner or circumstances of his death. Is the moral of the story "shit happens?" I really don't know.

Anyway. If you take all of that aside, go ahead, toss it out the window... You really end up with a good movie. A good detective story anyway. And as far as detective stories go it is pretty predictable.

The final thing which makes Elah what it is is Tommy Lee Jones' performance, and how we witness his character go from straight-laced, (and still "living the life" so-to-speak) into a dark world of chaos. He starts off parking his polished shoes by his neatly tucked-and-folded bed, to a sloppy, sleeping til noon mess as he unravels the mystery of what happened to his son. Really, that's whats at the core of the story. I'll throw in a big nod to Susan Sarandon playing the would-be-stoic army wife and mother. Her brief yet powerful performance is equally moving as Jones'. But, if Theron's goal was to play a not-so-bright but dedicated cop with no personality, then I think she nailed it dead on.

So, take all the proposed rhetoric about Iraq out of The Valley of Elah, and its a really solid piece. But to put it all in there is just confusing and at best a plot device that we just didn't need. The entire stream of 'decoded' cell phone videos just serve to muddle the picture, providing few clues really except to finally show that Mike's buddies were a bunch of sadistic animals. I just don't get the motive there.

In the Valley of Elah In the Valley of Elah
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Description

In career Army officer Hank Deerfield's worldview, the American military exists to bring order to the world, and honor and dignity to every one of its soldiers. As played by Tommy Lee Jones, in a layered performance that will haunt the viewer long after the film is over, Deerfield wears the Army life like he does his standard-issue white T-shirts--unconsciously making a cheap motel bed with crisp inspection-ready corners...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: Warner Manufacturing
Manufacturer: WarnerBrothers
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Josh Brolin
  • Barry Corbin
  • Wayne Duvall
  • Frances Fisher
  • Tommy Lee Jones

Features

  • Condition: New
  • Format: DVD
  • AC-3; Closed-captioned; Color; Dolby; Dubbed; DVD; Subtitled; Widescreen; NTSC

Reviews

Customer reviews
Average Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough Movie. Tough of the heart., June 17, 2011
By 
James H. Wilson (Newport News, Virginia United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: In the Valley of Elah (DVD)
Damn!
If I were a young actor and saw Tommy Lee Jones in this movie I'd quit and go work in a burger joint. I would know that I could never turn in a performance like his.
This is a tough movie that is a story of a hunt, a vile set of crimes and two forces set against each other across a valley of mistrust and secrecy. You will never see acting any better than in this film. It is hard to say that you would "enjoy" this movie like it would be hard to "enjoy" Saving Private Ryan. But at the end you know that you have seen the best in the acting business run themselves through the wringer and have taken you along for the ride.
This is a great movie with great actors turning out fantastic performances. I suggest that you get a regular DVD as there is no scenery or fantastic landscapes that would make you wish you had it on blu-ray. It is all acting at its best.
It does beg a question. What is happening to our soldiers in Iraq and the Middle East? What are their... Read more
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man should not feel that he is not a man if he does not want to go but goes to please his father.Everybodys life is their own, May 2, 2016
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This review is from: In the Valley of Elah (DVD)
Tommy Lee Jones is an excellent actor.He played this role to a T.It is a very interesting story and shows what war does to a sensitive man and the pain the parents go through and the guilt that some soldiers feel about atrocities they have to commit and the cover up that a police women decides to find out the truth after she makes a bad mistake that she regrets.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, September 14, 2012
By 
S. Karl (Monroe, Ia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: In the Valley of Elah (DVD)
I'll admit I was a little leary about this movie. I had never heard of it. But it starred Tommy Lee Jones; who, in my humble opinion, is one of the finest actors in America. The film has so many layers. I've seen reviews that stated that Tommy Lee's performance was wooden and lacked emotion. To me, he was more like a man that was keeping his emotions barely at bay. He wanted to understand why his son was brutally murdered and mutilated. Sure, he could have been screaming and yelling at everyone, but never gets anyone anywhere. Most people that have served in the military knows that.

Mr. Jones is surrounded by a great cast. Charlize Theron as a cop that people think can't handle anything besides domestic disputes and lost dogs, Susan Sarandon as the mother who has lost one son already and has just lost her second son. Even Jason Patrick turns in a great performance as a representative of the JAG. All turned in above the bar performances.

The plot is based on an... Read more
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In The Valley of Elah (2007) Chris

Summary: take all the proposed rhetoric about Iraq out of The Valley of Elah, and its a really solid piece. But to put it all in there is just confusing and at best a plot device that we just didn't need. The entire stream of 'decoded' cell phone videos just serve to muddle the picture

2.5


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



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