Basic

Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: John Travolta, Connie Nielsen, Samuel L Jackson, Brian Van Holt
Director: John McTiernan

On the surface BASIC looks like it could be your standard military drama about getting to the truth behind why army drill instructor Sgt Nathan West (Samuel L Jackson) and some of his cadets have gone missing, possibly killed, during a jungle training exercise.

But BASIC isn’t standard. There’s no courtroom questioning (which is a plus point) and it mostly all takes place either in the interrogation room, or in flashbacks to the events as they are described by the surviving cadets. It’s by watching these different versions of the events that you get to decide what you believe. There is a little more to BASIC than flashbacks as Lt. Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen) questions Tom Hardy’s (John Travolta) methods of interrogation and there’s the real secret of BASIC – the twist at the end – and it is quite a twist.

I can’t help but feel though that BASIC could have delivered more than it actually does, and the claustrophobic atmosphere of the film combined with what seems at times to be confusing moments tend to leave BASIC in the not very outstanding category, which is a shame considering the star talent and quality director on a display here.

3 out of 6 stars

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