IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
Washed-Out Anti-Military Throwback
Release Date: September 14, 2007
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: Warner Independent Pictures
Director: Paul Haggis
Writer: Paul Haggis
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In the story, Tommy Lee Jones plays a stoic former Army investigator, Hank Deerfield, who served in Vietnam. His older son died in a helicopter crash in the Army. Now his younger son, Mike, is fighting in Iraq.
Mike returns from Iraq, but turns up missing and declared AWOL at the military base where he’s stationed. Hank immediately jumps in his truck and makes the two-day trip to the base.
There, Hank encounters an unsympathetic military leadership and an unsympathetic civilian police force, including Det. Emily Sanders played by Charlize Theron. Hank starts watching some of the garbled, disturbing footage from Mike’s cell phone, which Hank stole from Mike’s room at the barracks.
Then, Mike’s body turns up murdered, dismembered and charred beyond recognition. The military tries to take over the investigation without doing much investigating, but Hank shows Det. Sanders that the perpetrator deliberately dragged Mike’s dead body over the jurisdiction line onto military property.
What ensues from there is a series of revelations showing that the Iraq War turned Mike and his platoon into violent uncontrollable monsters.
IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH has some excellent performances, especially by Tommy Lee Jones, but the cinematography and editing are not impressive. In fact, the photography has that washed-out quality that today’s over-confident filmmakers mistake for “realism.”
Instead of American soldiers returning from Vietnam, the target of IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH is American soldiers returning from the Iraq War. Naturally, President Bush and his military commanders are seen in a negative light, and the movie ends with the stoic hero, played by Tommy Lee Jones, deliberately flying the American flag upside down. The obvious premise is that an immoral war is turning most of our soldiers into monsters.
The title for this movie comes from the story of the battle between David and Goliath in the Bible, which Hank tells to Det. Sanders’ own son. You might think that the moral of this story is that Americans should be brave and courageous when fighting evil terrorists and murderers in Iraq. The moral here, however, seems to be that Americans should not let the “Military Industrial Complex” send them off to any wars, even righteous ones.
IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH is just one of many anti-patriotic movies and documentaries against the Iraq War and the War on Terror being promoted these days. Don’t expect Hollywood to release any movies soon showing heroic American soldiers fighting evil terrorists in Iraq, or even Afghanistan. Apparently, it is too busy shilling for Osama Bin Laden, and the radical left extremist liars who hate the American flag and what it symbolizes. As even Hillary Clinton’s husband, Bill, once admitted about himself, these people “loathe the military.”
By the way, IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH also shows that American soldiers like alcohol, drugs and strip clubs. Hank is shown praying silently in one scene (to what, we don’t know), but none of the other soldiers are shown to be religious, despite much documentary evidence, including recent photographs from Iraq, to the contrary. Like patriotism, sincere belief in God and Jesus Christ is considered embarrassing, if not downright evil, in the eyes of many on the left. That’s why Oliver Stone’s positive depiction of a religious military man in WORLD TRADE CENTER, one of the winners last year at MOVIEGUIDE®’s Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala, was such a welcome, surprising relief.
Despite an excellent performance by Tommy Lee Jones, the directing, cinematography and editing of IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH are not impressive. Also, the movie is
anti-American and anti-military, and ends with the stoic hero deliberately flying the American flag upside down. The premise is that an immoral war is turning most of our soldiers into monsters. The movie also shows that American soldiers like alcohol, drugs and strip clubs. Hank is shown praying silently in one scene, but none of the other soldiers are shown to be religious. Ultimately, this is just another in a long line of anti-American, anti-soldier movies from Hollywood.