By Brett Mullins
Directed by John McTiernan; Written by James Vanderbilt
Basic is a psychological thriller that brings together the excellent on screen duo of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. Besides evoking nostalgia of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, this film takes the audience on a mind bending ride through the jungles of Panama where not much seems to make sense.
All hell breaks loose on a military training exercise for a group of Army Rangers. To aid with the investigation, the base commander contacts a DEA officer and former Ranger, Agent Hardy (John Travolta). As the interrogations begin, two seemingly contradictory narratives unfold, and confusion ensues.
This is one of those films that is impossible to turn off after the first ten or so minutes. The style of back and forth story telling is quite intriguing and leaves the audience clueless and guessing at what happened right from the start. This results in a great deal of tension building by the end of the film. Unfortunately, the audience is let down by the film’s confusing and lackluster ending. Upon reflection, nothing in this film really adds up, leading one critic to deem this film ‘anything but basic’.
Despite the lack of a coherent storyline, Basic is worth watching, if only to speculate at the possible sequence of events.