From writer/drector Paul Haggis (Crash, 2005) comes a mystery about a father in search of his missing son. A David and Goliath theme and an underlying message about the military presence in Iraq provide a good backdrop for this narrative. The screenplay was inspired by Mark Boal's Playboy magazine article, "Death and Dishonor".
Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones), a retired military police officer from the Vietnam war, his wife, Joan (Susan Sarandon), and civilian police detective Emily Sanders (Charlize Theron), a single mother struggling to raise a young son, are the major characters in the film. The story begins when Hank's second son (his first son David was killed in the military) Mike (Jonathan Tucker) has not reported back home even though his army unit has returned home from duty in Iraq. This worries Hank and Joan and causes them to hire an investigator to find out what's happened to their son. A jurisdictional problem arises: the question is should the military conduct the investigation or should the local police take charge? And it seems that the military wants to sweep this under the rug.
Mr. Jones' aged face perfectly fits the role of the grim Hank Deerfield, the clue-seeking ex-military policeman. He is relentless in his search for answers. Ms. Theron is convincing as Emily in the part of the only female police detective in the unit who is subject to ridicule. The two make a good pair in solving this crime. Hank is old school in his investigation and Emily is just anxious to get a real case to work.
The are some key elements of this film that caught my attention. One is the importance of video footage of U.S. soldiers in Iraq as they face possible terrorists or enemy combatants. This I can only assume is Haggis' statement on the war, whether is it pro or con. The second key is the name "David" which is the name of Emily's son and Hank's oldest son who was killed in the military. In one particular scene Hank tells Emily's son the tale of David and Goliath as a bedtime story. I can only guess this is to underline the notion of the little guy winning, because Hank and Emily are up against the military and civilian powers of authority to find the truth in this ever-evolving crime drama.