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3.7 out of 5 stars
Basic [DVD] [2003]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 August 2012
A US Army base in Panama is the setting for Basic. As a a training mission for recruits who want to be US Rangers goes awry, with the death of some of them, including the feared & hated Sgt. West (Jackson). The surviving few who are interrogated by Capt. Osbourne (Nielson) wont talk, so the base commander Col. Styles (Daly) decides to turn to his old buddy, Hardy (Travolta), an ex-Ranger & now DEA agent who specializes in interrogation. Can he get to the bottom of the situation & unravel the mystery ?

Overall this is a decent attempt from Die Hard director John McTiennan, it has plenty of twists to the story, although getting there though the constant CSI-esque flash backs as to each solider's version of events can be a bit confusing to keep track of, and requires you pay close attention throughout. John Travolta (Face/Off) was great as Hardy, presenting one of his more cocky persona's, combined with the professionalism of a military man & plenty of tricks up his sleeve to get to the bottom of things. Connie Nielson (Boss) was good as the base interrogator, in over her head, having a good rapport with Travolta, along with some sexual tension while playing second fiddle to his character Hardy, but she has enough nous about her to challenge or question his methods. Samuel L. Jackson (The Negotiator) gave a solid performance as the sinister, wide eyed drill sargent. The rest of the support cast were decent, with Tim Daly (Private Practice), Giovanni Ribisi (Boiler Room), Roselyn Sanchez (Rush Hour 2) & Brian Van Holt (Cougar Town).

In conclusion, Basic is an interesting military mystery thriller, strong, convincing performances by the leads helps sell it, combined with a twisting story. That arguably is a little bit confusing at times, while your interpretation of the film come the finale, will hinge on the ending itself. Recommended.
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John Travolta as a top military interrogator may seem an unlikely role; and this film does nothing to dispel that view. However, the story of six Rangers in the Darien Perninsula led by a psycho NCO is sufficiently twisty to appeal to the Usual Suspects fan. The interrogations seemed to be forgotten as everyone suddenly coughed the clues (in one case literally) in the best Hercule Poirot fashion. You are unlikely to watch it twice.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
There is nothing basic about Basic. I thought this movie was superb; maybe I'm easier to please than a lot of the people who criticize the script because I found this to be one of the most intelligent, mesmerizing, blow-your-mind movies I've ever seen. It's a rare treat to find a movie that is not completely predictable these days, and Basic takes unpredictability and surprise to unheard of levels. There was one small aspect of the saga I successfully predicted early on, but the rest of the twists and turns this movie takes had me doing mental gymnastics. Every time you start to think you've seen at least a shadow of the light, this movie rips the rug back out from under you and plunges you into even darker depths of confusion and doubt. Best of all, this elaborate plot actually holds together, which is really just amazing. Basic is a movie that makes you think, and I have no problem admitting that I was often at a loss as to what was really going on; Basic did not insult my intelligence in any way shape or form; it challenged it constantly and delightfully humbled me in the process.
At the center of the story is a Special Forces training mission that goes horribly awry. Only two of six soldiers make it out of the Panamanian jungle, one of whom is injured and the other of whom isn't talking. The base commander Styles (Timothy Daly) calls in his old buddy Hardy (John Travolta) to interrogate the witness because he feels the job is over the head of Army investigator Osborne (Connie Nielsen). Before the feds get involved, Styles wants to know why the unit leader Sgt. West (Samuel L. Jackson) and four soldiers are lying dead somewhere out in the jungle. Hardy is a former Ranger who served under and hated West, but he is now an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency. Hardy gets the one soldier to tell his version of events, only to hear a much different story from the injured soldier when he wakes up in the hospital. So begins a quest for the truth that has Hardy and Osborne running back and forth between witnesses, discovering unexpected aspects of the case such as the existence of drug-smuggling operations being carried out inside the base and hospital, and discovering that the big fish they are striving so hard to reel in is one big whopper indeed.
Do things become confusing? That's affirmative, but I see this in a positive light. This movie makes you stop and think, turning over what you have heard in your own mind not so much to predict the future as to merely stay caught up with the twists and turns you have just seen revealed before your very eyes. In the final analysis, one or two little aspects of the presentation, which occur largely in the form of dream-like flashbacks, may have a weak leg to stand on but never come close to collapsing or falling over. Some will probably be tempted to just throw their hands up in the air and give up trying to understand everything, but those who love a challenge, especially one presented in such a theatrical and awe-inspiring way, will find themselves energized and inspired to a degree few movies can hope to duplicate. For my money, Basic is one of the most intelligent, suspenseful thrillers I've seen in a long time.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Twist-wise this is a heckuvagreat movie. It's a steaming, down and dirty whodunnit-to-who under the guise of an army training exercise gone wrong. A Special Force team goes into the jungles of Panama, under the supervision of Samuel L. Jackson (West,) but they don't all come out. The onus of finding out what happened falls on Connie Nielsen (Osborne), but then Tim Daly (Styles) brings in John Travolta (Hardy) to take over the investigation.
It's not Travolta's best role, but he does a passable Hardy, the great inquisitor. Connie Nielsen steals most of the movie, even though her accent grates on the nerves sometimes, but otherwise she's got what it takes. Timothy Daly is good for most of the movie (until the end), and there just isn't enough Samuel L. Jackson to go around.
Poor Giovanni Ribisi - he must be really tired of being type-cast by now. He plays the same role, once again, for the umpteenth time.
My problem with the movie is that a lot of the scenes are shot out of focus and in the dark - so it's hard to figure out who's doing what to whom most of the time. (My copy didn't have sub-titles, and the close-captioning was pathetic, so that didn't help much)
Any attempt to summarize the plot would contain spoilers, so I won't. Spending a few hours on this 3.5 star movie, wouldn't be time wasted.
Amanda Richards
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on 11 May 2015
One of the most terrible films ever. So bad it's good. There's so much you could hate about it, but it's one of those films I can't help to enjoy every time I watch it. Definitely worth a go if you see it on Instant Video or Netflix or similar.
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on 25 June 2015
This DVD is basicly a who done it with two of Hollywood's biggest stars in it John Travolta and Samuel L Jaçkson, Samuel is in the army the other a lone private investigator,the story is about an investigation into drugs.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2004
Having just seen this movie on DVD I have to say that it was an enjoyable movie. Some great twists and turns. Travolta was great in his role as hardy and samuel Jackson was also outstanding in his role as west.
Although the story line was at times a little bit difficult to follow I would have to say that this is a good film if only for the reason of the two lead actors back together after pulp fiction.
I would say to all of you watch this one.. as it keep you interested all the way in the end where the real story becomes really clear.
i would give this out 7 of 10 as a rating.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2004
Basic tells the story of a drugs scam in the U.S Army. However high ranking officers have their suspicions, and the team who are though of running it are sent of a training mission in which most of the team die, bar 2. The 2 return to be questioned on who caused the deaths, and who was behind the drugs. Great story line twists follow with an great ending, I don't know why everyone in slating it, it a great, must see film
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2010
I am the kind of film viewer who has the knack of losing a plot. Very quickly. So when I came to the end of Basic for the first time, thoroughly confused and befuddled, I supposed it was just me and that I needed to get my brain in gear next time. But it wasn't just me and no amount of brain power seems to help sort fact from fiction in this foggy mystery.

Travolta and Nielsen play ex-ranger Tom Hardy and Captain Osbourne who are thrown together to investigate the disappearance of Sgt. West (Jackson) in a training exercise. Cue a baffling maze of twists and turns in which some of the key players are there and then not; some are killed off and then not; one turns out to be another...or not? And so on... but you do have to admire Osbourne for sticking it out and unravelling it all at the end. If it was me overseeing this mess, a bottle of wine and a darkened room would be where I was headed.

I enjoyed the dark jungle action sequences, Jackson getting mad and the sort of chemistry Travolta and Nielsen had in their roles, but a lot of this was lost in the fog that shrouded much of this film. If like me, you are attracted by the Jackson / Travolta combo, you may be disappointed to find they share about five minutes on screen. Just don't expect to care much about either of their characters by the time it happens.

* extras: commentary by director John McTiernan / 'A Writer's Perspective' / design featurette / trailer / TV & radio spots *
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2005
Basic isnt a bad way to spend a couple of hours or so as long as you dont mind being led through the film by your nose. There are a number of twists that genre fans will spot and the rest of us can just enjoy as they happen. Travolta gives a good showing all though perhaps lacking in effort, Jackson is as always just Sam Jackson in another movie (which isnt a bad thing). Although lacking in military realism that isnt what this movie is about and it can be overlooked for the sake of story. Give it a chance and you will probably enjoy it.
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