G.I. Jane

G.I. Jane, what a wonderfully wrong name for this movie. Although this film sounds like, and was promoted like, a drama about women in the military, it doesn’t go that route. The simplest way to describe G.I. Jane is that it’s an action film.

G.I. Jane is directed by Ridley Scott, from whom one of my most favorite sci-fi films came from (Blade Runner), but the film feels suspiciously like a Tony Scott film. (Tony is Ridley’s brother, better known for his action films like Top Gun, Days of Thunder, and Crimson Tide.) I’ll get to the looks and feel of the film later in this review.

Demi Moore is Lt. Jordan O’Neil, an intelligence officer chosen, unknowingly, to be a pawn in a political game. The political game? Simple, O’Neil joins the Navy SEALS in training. O’Neil is put into this position by a fast talking senator, Lillian DeHaven, who wants to use O’Neil to get re-elected and to look good to the press. The film follows O’Neil through her SEAL training and also the political dealings behind her training. Most interesting in the film is Viggo Mortensen (Daylight, Crimson Tide) as the Master Chief. He gives a great performance, sometimes overshadowing Moore. Moore seems to be reviving her role from Disclosure, without the hair and with a gun.

What I expected walking into the theatre was to see a drama that explores the implications of females in the US Military, but what I got was an action film that slightly touches on these issues. The film is filled with characters, but unfortunately all of the characters are flat and unmemorable. The only three characters that are memorable are O’Neil, the Master Chief, and Anne Bancroft’s DeHaven.

Other touches that I liked in the film were its heavy use of military equipment, most especially the helicopters. It was nice to see so much of the UH-1 Huey in a film, and also to see the AH-1 Cobra in action. The training shown in the film looks tough, but does not sound exactly right. I’ve seen an interview with a SEAL, on the Criterion laserdisc of The Rock, that describes the intense training to become a SEAL, and although some of the training is shown on the screen, some of the hardest is only mentioned slightly via dialog or is left out.

The feel and look of the film seems to be a strange mix between the two Scott brothers. There’s heavy use of fog and smoke, which is a Ridley thing. But then there are fast cuts and multiple angles on single actions, which is a Tony thing. Then the action makes the film feel completely like a Tony film. Though Ridley did a good job with the action, later on in the film, he dropped into the shaky-camera cinematography. For those of you that don’t know, I’m somewhat annoyed to see action scenes shot with a shaky camera, although sometimes it works really well, Ridley seemed to overuse it late in the film. Combine the shaky-camera with the unintentional zooming, and the action scenes seem to feel more contrived than they do panicky.

Overall, G.I. Jane should be seen as an action film more than a drama. Demi Moore does a good job with her role, but Viggo Mortensen does his one better. Though this is not a very strong Ridley Scott film, it is still entertaining. I hope that Ridley can put out a stronger film soon, on the vein of Alien, Blade Runner, or Thelma and Louise.