Here's the scoop from David Edelstein:
So it is musty, clunky, third-rate, and predictable. So why see it? Where does all that vitality come from? It is an indictment of Bush administration policy and describes, at least as liberals imagine it, the moral devastation of American soldiers serving in (and coming home from) Iraq.
Paul Haggis’s In the Valley of Elah is vital in spite of its mustiness. As a narrative, it’s clunky. As a whodunit, it’s third-rate. As the drama of a closed-off man’s awakening, it’s predictable.
So it's a political tract that strokes liberal anti-Bush sensibilities and nothing more.
I will be giving it a pass. You should too.