What is a crime that is worse than rape? The General's Daughter, which should've been named after that crime, tries to illustrate this in a graphic and depressing manner.
When Warrant Officer Paul Brenner (John Travolta) runs into Elizabeth Campbell (Leslie Stefanson), the daughter of General Campbell, and she helps him change a tire, he is smitten by her. He soon encounters her lying dead on the army exercise grounds, naked and tied down, strangled by her own panties. He learns, along with fellow Officer Sarah Sunhill (Madeleine Stowe), that Elizabeth had some serious issues with regards to her father and that her death was caused while she was in the process of enacting a rape she had been a victim of seven years ago.
At this point, almost everyone in the film becomes a suspect, chief among them being Colonel Robert Moore (James Woods). There is some cat-and-mouse game playing between Brenner and Moore (which comes off well, thanks to the screen presence both Travolta and Moore bring to the film) due to the latter's implicating presence in S&M tapes starring Elizabeth Campbell. The identities of the real killers are quite obvious right from the outset.
The film touches upon some interesting social issues (rapes go unreported, not just in the army, because of the social stigma), and content-wise it is well done. However, the plot and direction are sub-par. The identity of the person who strangled Campbell's body is discovered through a convoluted mess mostly by chance, and the identity of the person who killed Campbell's spirit is discovered through "investigative" techniques that works only in the movies.
The film is effective only if you let yourself be emotionally manipulated by the graphic depiction of the crimes being committed. If you do, then the atmosphere is perfect, the music is haunting, and creators milk your feelings for all they're worth, thanks to the convincing performances by the lead actors. The General's Daughter however has to indeed resort to such graphic depiction to draw its audience and this is its biggest flaw. I personally chose, as Campbell refers to the work she does, to let the filmmakers "fuck with" my mind. If you fall in that category of people, the film is a good time killer. If you don't fall in that category of people, you might want consider some field operations in psychological warfare, and make your enemy Hollywood.