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A D.E.A. Agent investigates the disappearance of a legendary Army Ranger Drill Sergeant and several of his cadets during a training exercise gone severely awry.

Director:

John McTiernan
3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Travolta ... Hardy
Connie Nielsen ... Osborne
Samuel L. Jackson ... West
Tim Daly ... Styles
Giovanni Ribisi ... Kendall
Brian Van Holt ... Dunbar
Taye Diggs ... Pike
Dash Mihok ... Mueller
Cristián de la Fuente ... Castro
Roselyn Sanchez ... Nunez
Harry Connick Jr. ... Vilmer
Georgia Hausserman Georgia Hausserman ... Pilot
Margaret Travolta Margaret Travolta ... Nurse #1
Dena Johnston ... Nurse #2
Nick Loren ... Helicopter Pilot
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Storyline

Tom Hardy, an ex-Army Ranger turned DEA agent, is drawn into an ever-widening mystery surrounding the disappearance of the feared and often hated Sgt. Nathan West, as well as several of his elite Special Forces trainees on what appears, at first, to have been a routine training exercise during a hurricane in the jungles of Panama. Only two survivors are found, Dunbar, and a badly wounded Kendall, the son of a high-profile Joint Chiefs of Staff official. Neither is willing to cooperate with Capt. Julia Osborne's investigation. So base commander Col. Bill Styles calls in ex-Ranger Hardy, an old friend and a persuasive interrogator. Osborne disapproves of Hardy who is on leave from the D.E.A. after having come under suspicion of accepting bribes from local drug traffickers. She is also uneasy when she learns that Hardy once trained under West and hates him almost as passionately as his current recruits. With time running out, Hardy and Osborne call a temporary, if uneasy, truce. Hardy ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

From the director of 'Die Hard' and 'The Thomas Crown Affair". See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Production Notes | Sony Pictures

Country:

Germany | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 March 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Básico y letal See more »

Filming Locations:

Costa Rica See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,511,960, 30 March 2003, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$26,536,120, 4 May 2003

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,999,250, 31 May 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Travolta visited the 1st Ranger Battalion in Savannah, Georgia, and observed live fire exercises, while preparing for his role. See more »

Goofs

Before following Hardy in her Hummer, Osborne is shown in the driver's seat wearing a jacket, which has disappeared once she sets the vehicle in motion. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Osbourne: [narration] The French tried to build a canal here before the Americans. At the height of their effort, 500 workers were dyin' a week from malaria and yellow fever. They couldn't come up with cemetary space fast enough. Not to mention the morale problem all those crosses would have made. So they bought shiploads of vinegar in Cuba, and in each barrel, they sealed one corpse, and then they sold them as medical cadavers all over Europe. And for a while, that was their principal source...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Basic: A Director's Design (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
Traditional
Performed by John Travolta
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Anything But Basic...
16 July 2003 | by MovieAddict2016See all my reviews

"Basic" takes a lot of plot twists through the steamy jungles of Panama. They are often impossible to follow. No, literally. Impossible. As in they literally do not piece together. You can try to analyze them, but when you do, you find out there is nothing really to be analyzed. But the film, by confusing and tricking the audience, makes it appear as if something is there, which is almost as good as if something really is there. Therefore, the movie, though frustratingly difficult to follow at times, is entertaining. Confused yet? Yeah, that's what the movie will make you feel like.

The film opens up in a rain-drenched Panama jungle at night on an Army training mission headed by Sergeant West (Samuel L. Jackson). Most of the film--ALL of the film, for that matter--takes place at night, during a rainy hurricane, and adds to the nonexistant plot. What is so intriguing is that the plot isn't really there, but the writer tries to manifest one, and we feel as if we are staring at some nonexistant, material wad of words and flashbacks and images thrown together in a blender, the writer hoping for it to come out smelling of roses. But I already went over that, didn't I?

Flash forward to the next day. An Army chopper picks up two men from the training mission, one injured and one very much alive. The injured man, Kendall (Giovanni Ribisi), is sent to a hospital, and the alive man, Dunbar (Brian Van Holt) is sent in for questioning by the very sexy and very Southern Osborne (Connie Nielsen). Dunbar refuses to speak to anyone except a Ranger. So in comes Ranger Tom Hardy (John Travolta) to piece together the events surrounding the death of Sgt. West and his team.

The writer of "Basic," James Vanderbilt, has so many twists and turns that the film is impossible to keep up with. I like movies like these, where you see different characters telling their version of one event, but the mistake Vanderbilt makes is that he overuses the plot flashbacks in the middle of other events. It becomes hard to seperate present from past and what's real from what's not. So many revelations happen that I feel like I'm in the middle of the writer's mind, as he comes up with new ideas and tries to squeeze them in time after time after time. There is a limit to how many times you can use "surprise" revelation endings. Vanderbilt uses three of four in a row, piled on top of each other, time after time after time. Just as we think the plot twists are done, and we start to smile because we think we might finally understand the basis of the plot, something else happens, and we zoom in suspensefully on John Travolta's face as he, along with the audience, realizes something. Which leads me to something else.

The end of the film leaves more open than concluded. So many plot holes are never ironed out. With the ending being the way it is, you can look back at certain events and think, "Why did that surprise (so-and-so)," and "Why did that event happen as it pays no relevancy to the plot?" The answer to all this? Simple: It's called audience manipulation, and James Vanderbilt uses it a lot. He throws the audience a bone to keep them happy, continues with something else, throws another bone, and when it's all done and over, we're choking on all these bones and he doesn't realize it. Interesting how he said he named his character Tom Hardy after the Hardy Boys. If I recall, the Hardy Boy novels, which I was an avid reader of at one time, usually revealed a lot at the end. "Basic" tries to, but does not.

The film has an excellent director at its helm, John McTiernan. A man who chooses his projects carefully and wisely and, unfortunately, sometimes horribly ("Rollerball" was exceptionally bad). But "Die Hard" and "Predator" are two of my all-time favorite action films, "Predator" being my all-time favorite "alien" movie. Who wants McTiernan to return to his roots and film a "Predator 3"? It would be good, but don't count on it. Like I said, he chooses wisely, and if I assume correctly, he's the kind of director who doesn't like to return to old projects.

"Basic" confused me, but after the film was over and my mind was in a knot trying to figure out all the different plot twists, I realized how much fun I had being duped by this film. I laughed to myself as I came to realize that this movie has a paper-thin plot, and the filmmakers all tricked us by taking so many twists and turns and throwing so many confusion bones at the audience and making us believe that the underlying plot of the film was something deep. I really enjoyed this movie, even if I still don't really understand it fully. Then again, I don't think you're really supposed to.

3.5/5 stars -


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