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At Theaters: 3/28/2003 On Video: 7/8/2003
Rated: R Length: 1 hr. 49 min.
Internet: Web Site Movie ID: 399952
Studio: Columbia Pictures Inc.
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Storyline Heading
When a legendary commander and several of his men turn up missing, the last thing the government wants is a rogue DEA agent investigating the disappearance. As the investigation unfolds, the agent is placed in direct conflict with the Army's official investigating officer and nothing is as it seems.
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Movie Type (Genre) Heading
Suspense Thriller - It's mainly an investigative drama with scenes of military persons in the jungle shooting each other. There are several of these intense and bloody scenes, but then it goes back to the investigation for a lengthy period. Travolta is great as the main investigator with his funny wise cracks and attitude. As you will see in the detailed content, this is a very strong movie content wise.
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Cast and Crew Heading
Samuel L. Jackson FORMULA 51, XXX
Director: John McTiernan ROLLERBALL, THE 13TH WARRIOR
Production Notes Heading
About The Production
Content Heading
PROFANITY: 47 F-words, 21 S-words, 7 A-words, 9 GD's. Many others.
SEX/NUDITY: No sexual activity. Some barely covered breasts and cleavage.
VIOLENCE: Very violent and very bloody in a few scenes only.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Some drinking of hard liquor and some dope smoking.
ACTION: There are sporatic scenes of short, intense, shooting.
COMEDY: Travolta's character adds quite a bit of humor for an otherwise intense movie.

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Critic's Review Heading
Below Average

The above rating is an average of the critic reviews below.

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Entertainment Weekly   Full Review
Poor "Basic is another depressingly empty action thriller built, as is the prevailing trend, from an inconsequential progression of deceptions and Rashomonic conflicting narratives.''

James Berardinelli, Internet Critic  Full Review
Average "For those who don't pay attention, and who enjoy preposterous thriller-like plot twists and lots of scenes filmed in the rain, Basic will hit the spot. Everyone else will find this movie to be basically tiresome and utterly forgettable.''

Roger Ebert  Full Review
Poor "This movie gives no indication even at the end that we have finally gotten to the bottom of things. There is a feeling that "Basic II" could carry right on, undoing the final shots, bring a few characters back to life and sending the whole crowd off on another tango of gratuitous deception.''

USA TODAY  Full Review
Average "Possibly because they sense this, writer James Vanderbilt and director John McTiernan tack on an especially twisted ending after we think we have too easily figured out where the movie is going. This kicker is not moldy, but it does feel cheap and contrived.''

Note: The rating above is our interpretation of what the critic would give this movie based on their review. We are not affiliated with these critic's in any way.


Opinion Heading

Based on an Exit Polling of 153 Moviegoers

Ages Age Group
Your Probability of
Enjoying This Movie
Movie To Friends
13-19Teens (M)
Very High
13-19Teens (F)
20-29Yg Adults (M)
Very High
20-29Yg Adults (F)
Very High
30+Adults (M)
Very High
30+Adults (F)
Very High
*Possible Ratings: Very High, High, Fairly High, About 50/50, Fairly Low, Low, Very Low.

About Our Opinions

Be sure to read the DETAILED OPINIONS
The positive and negative comments made by moviegoers are very
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The following is the original "What's Worth Watching" write-up for this movie.

Moviegoer Opinions:

Opinions will be collected opening weekend and will usually be worked up and online by Monday or Tuesday following a Friday opening. We are sometimes able to put on a Saturday Morning Update, so if you get a chance to check the site Saturday you may be able to see how the opinions came in Friday night. Go to Movies at Theaters and check the "What's Worth Watching" section.

Cinema Review Prediction: (before moviegoer opinions are collected)
Travolta makes this movie. Without his wisecracking, don't care attitude it would be just an interesting "who-dun-it." He makes it fun and entertaining, even though it gets quite intense and bloody at times. I believe most will be pleased with Basic. It's got a wide range of things going on to keep it interesting. It may not be a great movie like Men of Honor or Antwone Fisher, but very few movies are. What it is, is funny, interesting and entertaining and I believe worth seeing.

Travolta stars as Tom Hardy, an ex-Army Ranger turned DEA agent, who is drawn into an ever-widening mystery surrounding the disappearance of the feared and often hated Sgt. Nathan West (Jackson), as well as several of his elite Special Forces trainees on what appears, at first, to have been a routine military exercise during a hurricane in the jungles of Panama.

Only two survivors are found, Dunbar (Brian Van Holt), and a badly wounded Kendall (Giovanni Ribisi), the son of a high-profile Joint Chiefs of Staff official. Neither is willing to cooperate with the head of Fort Clayton's military police, Capt. Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen). So base commander Col. Billy Styles (Tim Daly) calls in ex-ranger Hardy, an old friend and a persuasive interrogator.

Osborne disapproves of Hardy who is on leave from the D.E.A. after having come under suspicion of accepting bribes from local drug traffickers. She is also uneasy when she learns that Hardy once trained under West and hates him almost as passionately as his current recruits.

With time running out, Hardy and Osborne call a temporary, if uneasy, truce. Hardy cajoles a confession out of Dunbar, who claims that Sgt. West and the missing Rangers have been murdered and their bodies blown away by the hurricane.

When they later interview Kendall, he confirms that the other rangers and West are dead. But, in almost every other way, his story contradicts Dunbar's.

What happened to West and his Ranger team? And what were they really doing out there in the jungle?

As the story unfolds, each layer reveals more lies and greater deceptions, until Hardy and Osborne inch towards the horrible truth about the fate of the missing soldiers.

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