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Movie rating system (0-2) The movie is balls (2-4) A few moments but mostly bad (4-5.5) Entertaining film but lacking something to make it good. (6-7.5) A recommendation meaning a good solid watch. (8-10) must watch films, they are usually leaders in their respective genre. I can also be found on Facebook or follow my blog at the bottom of this page. THERE MAY BE MINI SPOILERS AHEAD!!! But there will be no endings/twists/cameos/or large plot reveals given.

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Friday, 5 April 2013

In the Valley of Elah

In the Valley of Elah
Rated: R
Running Time: 121 minutes
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Jason Patric
Directed By: Paul Haggis
Rating: 7 out of 10
A retired military investigator looks into the recent disappearance of his son.

The Tommy Lee Jones not impressed face probably originated from this movie. He is so taciturn in this film that it carried on to the Golden Globes six years later.  In the Valley of Elah is the story of Hank Deerfield. He is a retired military investigator that has the unfortunate task of trying to track down his army son, who has gone AWOL.

Some people will call this movie slow and depressing, I thought it was well established and thoughtful. The film starts off and we are introduced to Hank Deerfield and his wife, Joan. They live a quiet life in a small house, and seem at peace with each other. That is until they receive troubling news that their son Mike, has just gotten back from a tour overseas and has gone missing from his military base. Hank does what every father would do and immediately heads out to the base to find his son. As Hank heads across country in his old truck, the viewer is treated to what Hank is all about. He has military precision in every aspect of his life. The precise and direct way he talks to his wife, the way he folds his clothes, and the way he carries himself in public, all make for a very real character. It allows you to believe that not only will he find his son, but he also has the knowhow and smarts to do so. After arriving at the base and asking some cursory questions, Hank realizes that this may be more than just a simple disappearance. He gets confusing reports of his son’s improprieties and that he was hanging out with people with dubious reputations. I can only imagine what it is like to have a child go missing, but you feel Hank’s pain even if he doesn’t show it. He enlists the help of old army buddies, the local police, and even a computer whiz, all in the attempt to find his son. The film just captivates you as Hank delves deeper into his son’s personal life. He uses all the tricks of his retired trade to piece clues together and discover the truth. Mike Deerfield, very much emulated his dads persona, but war may have changed him in ways that civilians cannot understand.

Hank Deerfield is played by Tommy Lee Jones and this film would have failed without him. He is fantastic as the retired military investigator. He is equal parts stubborn to professional, and he goes about his business in such a robotic fashion that you forget that this is a movie. He plays the character perfectly and I would recommend seeing this movie for his gruff performance alone. He is complimented perfectly by Charlize Theron who is playing a local detective named Emily Sanders. The two of them discuss the different ways of interpreting clues and dissecting witness testimony. Theron is an underrated actress (even though she has won an Oscar) as she plays most of her roles wonderfully. She and Jones battle each other professionally for most of the movie on how to proceed with the case. In this power struggle comes admiration and friendship, and they played it perfectly. Susan Sarandon, James Franco, and Josh Brolin all have small supporting roles if you are fans of theirs.

David fought the giant, Goliath, in the Valley of Elah, and what a perfect metaphor that is for this movie in more ways than one. Hank is a small single man taking on the giants of the local police, military, and criminals, virtually all by himself. He does so without hope and without personal safety. As Hank digs for clues, all he finds are more questions and that is why this film is so good. War is a nasty business and thankfully most of us will not witness it firsthand. It leaves lives ruined and minds scarred, and when the end comes to this film it will leave you wondering, is it all worth it? But more importantly, will Hank find his son? In conclusion, this film is a great crime/anti-war film. It is led by its fantastic acting and tackles tough situations head on. You will be intrigued from start to finish on one man’s devotion in finding his son. It is slow at times and does get a little repetitive in the investigation parts, but it is well worth the watch.

Director Paul Haggis (from Canada, Frak yeah) follows up his amazing movie Crash, with another film he can be proud of. The story has a lot of angles, but it somehow congeals into a pretty touching 2 hours. The slower pacing is alleviated by the great cast, and the dialogue and character interactions are mostly believable. This film will be picked apart by pro war people, but if you like movies for just being movies then there is little wrong with this film.

I give this movie a big recommendation and who knew Spanish from Old School could fix computers?

T Factor + If you like Tommy Lee Jones as an actor the

n this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like anti-war films then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Tigerland, Platoon.

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