Basic

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Basic
Review (5.5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

I have good news and I have bad news. The good news? John McTiernan's Basic is not nearly as terrible as his previous "work" Rollerball, quite possibly the worst movie in the long and storied history of Hollywood movies. The bad news? Do not go into Basic expecting the same sort of John Travolta-Sam Jackson magic that we witnessed many years ago in Pulp Fiction. It is just not there. Basic is another one of those military movies where there has been scandal in the army and Travolta is called in to clean up the mess and find out the real truth. He is here to find out the real truth because everyone in the army lies. The only problem this time is the real truth comes out after so many twists and turns that by the time the final twists and turns are revealed, you almost don't give a flying "f" anymore. I know by the time we learned the "real" truth, I had a pounding headache and just wanted to go to bed.

Travolta plays DEA officer and former army Ranger Tom Hardy, the man called in by the army to investigate the murder of four members of an elite force headed by Sergeant Nathan West (Samuel L. Jackson). This is not the normal Travolta we have all come to know and love. No, not this time. Travolta is now slim and buff and has had that hairy carpet that adorned his body for so many years waxed off. And not surprisingly, about ten seconds into his first on-screen appearance, we are "treated" to a wet and shirtless Travolta, no doubt a clause he had written into his contract to stroke that ego that is probably twice the size of his enormous head.

What I will say about Basic is that it is probably more suited to a Friday or Saturday night rental and opposed to a trip to your friendly neighborhood theatre. And if you are a working man (or woman) and have to work during the week, you will probably fall asleep if you rent it on a weekday. It is just not that great of a movie, but not really terrible. It does keep you guessing, which is good I suppose. But if it was trying to be this year's A Few Good Men, it failed miserably (although I did find it much better than one of Travolta's earlier works, The General's Daughter). As for the performances in the movie, well, Travolta comes just as advertised - no surprises there. Jackson is not really in the movie as much as we would like. Giovanni Ribisi was a disappointment to me as a homosexual army drug dealer. And was that really Andy Garcia playing one of Travolta's army friends because if it was I didn't even recognize him. Connie Nielsen as Lieutenant Julia Osborne was okay but what was with that brief fight scene between her and Travolta. I just did not get the purpose of that one. Thank God they did not start making out because if they would have I would have pounded my head on the steel railing in front of me.

All I can really say is do not go into Basic expecting the wheel to be reinvented. Proceed with caution. Expect mediocrity. And if you are a huge Travolta fan, expect, well, mediocrity.

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