Review – Basic


To Panama we head for the 2nd film of this year’s Alphabet Challenge and to the 2003 film Basic. Directed by John McTiernan, the film is a military mystery thriller starring John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, and was written  by James Vanderbilt.

Travolta plays DEA Agent Tom Hardy (yep really!) who is called upon one evening by a former colleague (Tim Daly) to help investigate a ‘training exercise gone wrong’ in the jungle. He is joined by Connie Nielsen as Captain Osborne, a straight laced investigator who has so far failed to find out any information from the remaining witness.

The film operates as a sort of ‘locked room murder mystery’ told through the style of Kurosawa’s film Rashomon – which uses non linear versions told through different people’s perspectives to unravel a mystery as the film progresses.

The downside is that it does quite pull it off. It’s a solid enough premise and Travolta cuts loose as a unconventional, pushing the boundaries investigator. Jackson too clearly enjoys the role of a Lou Gossett Jnr in An Officer and a Gentleman / R.Lee Ermy in Full Metal Jacket character.

The film feels reminiscent of Travolta’s The General’s Daughter in both setting and role but much with that film, it suffers from being overly contrived and finding itself a little too clever. It twists and turns so much that Im not sure how attached you really are by the end of it, but I’ve seen a lot worse films. The structure and Travolta’s performance were the stand out bits for me.


That’s what I thought – what about you? Have you seen it? Comment below and share your thoughts…

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