Basic (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/06/2003

One out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Awful, awful film that should be avoided at all costs – a twist-laden plot that actually insults the audience and a swaggering, showy performance by Travolta.

It seems hard to believe that the director of Basic is the same John McTiernan who made Die Hard. However, it’s very easy to believe that it’s the same John McTiernan who made last year’s inept remake of Rollerball.

What exactly has happened to Mr McTiernan’s talent is an intriguing mystery. Basic, however, is not. Basic is an unbelievably crap thriller that should be avoided like your life depended on it.

Jungle Training Mission Carnage

The plot starts with Samuel L. Jackson’s Hard Ass Sergeant (straight out of The Big Book Of Movie Clichés) leading a special team into the Panamanian jungle on a training mission.

Only two people come out alive: camp soldier Giovanni Ribisi and muscle-bound silent type Brian Van Holt. There is, of course, only One Man who can make Van Holt talk and that, of course, is John Travolta (playing, wait for it, a character called Thomas Hardy) who has been working out since you last saw him, so when he gets the call there’s a gratuitous shower scene for which you may wish to bring a bucket.

So, Big John is teamed with Connie Nielsen’s army investigator and some cringe-worthy flirting ensues that will make you feel really sorry for Connie Nielsen, what with this and The Hunted coming out two weeks apart.

Nothing Redeeming Anywhere

It soon turns out that both soldiers have completely different versions of what really happened in the jungle, at which point you think “Oooh, so it’s a bit like a blockbuster version of Rashomon, then?” Except it’s Rashomon as rewritten by a remedial scriptwriters class.

There are no redeeming features to the film whatsoever. Even the heavily-publicised touting of “Travolta and Jackson – together onscreen for the first time since Pulp Fiction!” is hugely misleading.

Basic fancies itself as the same sort of film as Wild Things. However, whereas the slew of mind-blowing final reel twists were part of the joke and not meant to be taken seriously, here it’s the opposite.

The final twist is so mind-bogglingly stupid that it will actually make you angry. Worse, the final scene has the protagonists sitting around congratulating themselves on how “clever” they’ve been.

Other actors you’ll feel sorry for include Tim Daly and Taye Diggs, who really ought to know better. To be fair, Ribisi is good, giving a performance that is far better than the film deserves. The full horror doesn’t end there, though. Oh no. Three words: Harry Connick Jnr. In short, a complete waste of time. Avoid.

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Content updated: 13/12/2017 22:47

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