G.I. Jane

Demi Moore also gets to confound her critics — in G.I. Jane, a surprisingly scrappy dramatic workout that is bound to disappoint those who are drooling to see the star in Top Gun Barbie. Sorry, guys, the only thing she takes off is her hair. Moore plays Jordan O'Neil, a no-nonsense lieutenant in Navy Intelligence who becomes the first woman to try out as a Navy SEAL. Goaded by Lillian DeHaven (Anne Bancroft), a feminist senator from Texas, Jordan becomes the test case nearly everyone wants to see fail.

ore knows that drill. The hell that Jordan takes from Master Chief John Urgayle (Viggo Mortensen shakes the clich�©s out of the role in a star-making turn) is only slightly more harsh than the beating Moore took from critics after her recent trio of turkeys: The Scarlet Letter, The Juror and Striptease. In May, Newsweek reported that "America has lost its appetite for the actress."

>G.I. Jane ought to bring the craving back. Moore has the muscle and the hustle to play this go-getter. She is one of the few performers around who could persuasively survive SEAL training. Moore does push-ups, squat jumps, battle maneuvers on sea and land, and runs obstacle courses with startling agility. In Ridley Scott (Thelma and Louise, Alien), she finds a director who is not afraid of toughness and cunning in a woman. In Danielle Alexandra and David Twohy, she finds screenwriters who, sadly, are not afraid of formula in a crowd pleaser. The far-fetched climax, in which war games become real in Libya, is a lift from Top Gun, directed by Scott's brother Tony. G.I. Jane is most compelling when it ducks the gloss, the military rah-rah and the temptation to turn its protagonist into a paragon. Down in the mud with the guys, Moore finds the heart of her character and a career beyond vanity and hype. She's never looked better.

From The Archives Issue 219: August 12, 1976