Basic

A Film Review By Jason L. King

< Rating:Rated R for violence and some language Starring: John Travolta, Connie Nielson, Giovonni Ribisi, Taye Diggs and a Deep Blue Sea Performance By Samuel L. Jackson Directed By:John McTiernan 

Final Grade: 

Movies at times can be a lot like murder investigations. In some of the more complex cases, everyone has a motive, yet no one has the answers. And no matter how you add things up, the one thing you find is that nothing adds up. It’s nice to know that in a lot of murder investigations we can find comfort in the thought that in the end, a lot of the times the crime gets solved. In the case of movies however, sometimes we are not given that luxury. You would think it’s the Basic premise of a movie to try not and confuse the audience, but in the end some films just want you to walk away with more questions than answers. If you are up for a film like that, jump in line for the newest Travolta flick, Basic.

Basic is the story of DEA agent who is being investigated for bribery and his investigation of the disappearance of an Army Ranger. Travolta stars as Tom Hardy, a gritty DEA agent under suspicion of taking bribes who is brought in to interrogate an Army Ranger about the disappearance of his superior (Samuel L. Jackson). But as the plot thickens, Hardy and his rookie partner Julia Osbourne (Connie Neilson – One Hour Photo) is pulled into a web of lies, deceit and hidden truths that lead up to a shocking turn of events.

The film was built up on the premise of the return of Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson together on the screen, but sadly enough, Jackson wasn’t in this film for much longer than he was in Deep Blue Sea, years ago. His actual interaction with Travolta lasted for maybe 3 minutes at the most, and was far from the Reprise of the two “Pulp Fiction” actors that they had hyped. I can honestly say that I was let down by the lack of Samuel L. Jackson, but I must say the few scenes he was in, I was easy to be in awe of his acting. I highly doubt that anyone can really look anyone in the eye and truthfully say that they think Samuel L. Jackson is not a gifted actor. I have been proven wrong before, but I don’t think too many will disagree with me on this one. Travolta on the other hand, is known more widely as a mediocre film star. Travolta’s career was only brought back from the dead because of a small time video clerk with an overactive imagination, who saw him as a star and cast him in his low budget success we all know as Pulp Fiction. Years later we find his return to the screen has once again given us an influx of decent and not so decent films. There is something about Travolta that I have never been able to lay a finger on. I don’t really hate him, but I don’t really like him either, never the less I still find myself in the box office lines for his movies. He has some sort of strange voodoo like powers that I will never understand.

I’d like to say that Basic impressed me because of it’s sudden turn a 360 at the end with a plot twist that even I wasn’t expecting, but the truth is that Basic was just that: Basic. The plot was almost cookie cutter the whole way through, so you knew there had to have been some sort of twist at the end, otherwise it would have been the worst film since Domestic Disturbance (What a surprise, another Travolta flick!). So the big “plot twist” really didn’t phase me at all. But then the film took the plot twist idea to the next level, and twisted the plot twist. If that sounds confusing, believe me watching it was the same way. The average moviegoer in me sat there trying to figure out just what exactly was happening, while the critic sat there saying this movie is trying way too hard. In the world of film, you can pull of a Primal Fear like twist once (if you haven’t seen Primal Fear, check it out), but when you do a Primal Fear twist on top of already weird plot twist you get a movie that was just trying to be too intelligent for it’s own good.

Despite the ending, the plot and the lack of Samuel L. Screen time that I was expecting, I must say that Basic was an ok flick if nothing else. I did not enjoy it, but I did not hate it either. It was a lot like Travolta’sSwordfish from a year a few years back. You either loved Swordfish from the start, hated it from the start, or it grew on you as time went on. Swordfish grew on me, and I can now find enjoyment in it. Basic is still up for question, and something tells me It’s not going to grow on me as time passes, but we will just have to see…

As for all of you, is Basic worth the cash? This is one of those films that I just can’t say yes, but I just can’t say no either. In a time when there are a lot of mediocre films out there, Basic is just another one of a million, the only problem is this is a mediocre film that is slightly better than the rest…. 

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