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Basic (R)
Columbia Tristar
Official Site
Director: John McTiernan
Producers: Mike Medavoy, Arnie Messer, James Vanderbilt, Michael Tadross
Written by: James Vanderbilt
Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Connie Nielsen, Giovanni Ribisi, Brian Van Holt, Taye Diggs, Cristian de la Fuente, Dash Mihok, Tim Daly, Roselyn Sanchez, Harry Connick Jr.,

Rating : out of 5


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.

óMichelle Fajkus

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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