G.I. Jane - * * 1/2*

The “boot camp” film has a long and honorable tradition. Someone is put through incredible duress for a long period of time, and emerges a well-forged soldier. G.I. Jane is the latest film to offer its take. Although it is well done, it’s one sole twist (that the soldier is female) does little to dispel the predictability residing in the plot.

Demi Moore is the soldier in question (or the sailor, as the case may be). She plays Lt. Jordan O’Neil, a Naval intelligence officer who becomes the test case in a power game run by an influential Texas senator, Lillian DeHaven (Anne Bancroft). To prove that women can be a viable combat force, Senator DeHaven convinces a prospective Naval Secretary to admit Lt. O’Neil to the most gruelling training program in the armed forces: Navy SEAL training.

Although Jordan isn’t looking to make a statement, she jumps into her training exuberantly, simply wanting to prove to herself that she has what it takes. Her chief antagonist is Master Chief Urgaye (Viggo Mortensen), whose motives for making life Hell for Jordan alternate between just doing his job, and a personal vendetta.

Demi Moore handles her title role admirably, combining the right amounts of strength and beauty. She doesn’t seem out of place here, as she has with several previous roles. She has to carry large parts of the film, and she succeeds.

G.I. Jane is a film that looks good. Aside from Demi’s obvious cinematic qualities, director Ridley Scott has crafted some intriguing imagery. From a rain-soaked beach, to a tropical island, to a desert battleground, the settings all hold our attention when the plot sometimes goes astray.

Although Ridley Scott creates an evocative atmosphere for the film, he fails to fill it with much meaning. We’ve seen all this before, albeit with a different gender. The sexual politics of the film could have been interesting, but the film already has its opinion, and doesn’t want to venture there for much more than posturing.

Still, G.I. Jane knows the procedures. Though we know the drill all too well, somehow the film never becomes boring. Ridley Scott knows how to create an atmosphere, and Demi Moore is at her most watchable here.

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