Basic (2)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


  The ad for Basic quotes a reviewer (Earl Bittman, Wireless Magazine, Houston) as saying, “Samuel L. Jackson turns in a phenomenally ruthless and devilishly delightful performance.”  When you consider that Jackson has, at best, 15 lines in the entire movie, and that’s the best thing a reviewer can say about the entire film, you should get the idea.  Jackson is in the opening sequence and he’s in the end with a few scenes in the middle.  He’s forgettable, at best, and, to give Bittman credit, a forgettable performance exceeds the quality of this movie.

 Basic is apparently about a squad of trainees dropped into a jungle in the middle of a hurricane.  Bad things happen and when they are picked up, several are dead, killed by their comrades.  John Travolta, a civilian, is called in to investigate.  The story is then told in a Rashomon-like fashion with two of the survivors telling their story in flashback, both of which are predictably inconsistent.  The problem is that the film doesn’t establish the identities of the characters before the investigation begins so the audience has no idea who they’re talking about when they refer to Styles or Dunbar or Pike or Kendall or Meuller.  As a result the telling of the story is total confusion.

 I have little doubt that if you make the misguided decision to go to this you will not have any idea what’s going on because the script is so convoluted it’s beyond comprehension.  The ending is the worst, non-sequitor ending of a movie since The Spanish Prisoner.  It renders what came before nonsensical.  You exit the theater saying to yourself, “I sat through this for THAT?”

 In fact, I’ll end this review with another quote from the ad, this one from Mairianna Bachynsky, ATV/CTV Entertainment, “… a twist you won’t believe.”  That’s for sure.

 April 1, 2003

 The End