Hollywood should really cap the number of twists allowed
in the last half-hour of any single movie. Watching Basic,
I sort of lost count (and interest), but I think eight would
be a safe estimate. Every time you think itís over, thereís
another scene, another secret revealed, another bad guy turned
good or good guy turned bad.
John Travolta plays ex-soldier turned Drug Enforcement
Agent Tom Hardy (Isnít that the name of one of the Hardy Boys
of teen mystery fame?), a master interrogator called in to
solve a riveting arithmetic problem: Six elite commando soldiers
went out into the jungle. Two came back. How many are missing?
Hardy has been requested because the armyís official interrogating
officer, Osborne (Nielsen), is a cute chick who canít
seem to get a peep out of the survivors.
Through flashbacks, we learn that long-hated Sergeant Nathan
West (Jackson) took five soldiers out for some target
shooting in the middle of a Panamanian jungle. During a hurricane.
Pummeling rain, lots of gunfire and a grenade or two later,
it looks like somebody offed the Sarge. This scene is repeated
over and over, with the details and character roles changed
as the two survivors retell their versions of the story.†
Thereís also some drug dealing going on at the base. A seedy
doctor (Connick Jr.) has been in cahoots with some
of the soldiers to distribute syringes of addictive prescription
drugs, as well as trafficking copious amounts of cocaine,
we later discover. But enough plot synopsis.
Basic is un-riveting but somewhat entertaining. Hardyís
slew of shameless passes at Osborne is pathetic yet chuckle-worthy.
Westís erratic temper and ridiculous treatment of his troops
is humorous here and there. But most of the time, it seems
the actors are reading lines from a cue card. And again, the
twists just become laughable after a while. In the altogether
goofy ending, we learn nothing is as it seems (surprise!)
and walk away with a shrug.