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Basic (2003) Poster

(2003)

Trivia

In order to give Roselyn Sanchez the proper posture, director John McTiernan had her wear a fifty-pound bag of sand on the front of her belt, while at the same time, told her to imagine herself as a Las Vegas showgirl.
Jump to: Spoilers (4)
It's raining almost the entire movie.
The reason John McTiernan didn't make another movie, for more than thirteen years, since Basic (2003), was because of numerous legal troubles, criminal charges, a felony conviction, and ultimately, his incarceration in Federal Prison Camp, Yankton until February 25, 2014. McTiernan served the remainder of his twelve-month prison sentence under house arrest at his ranch house in Wyoming, until April 4, 2014.
Every time the story of the bunker is retold, each person has a different partner.
Method actor Giovanni Ribisi didn't take a bath for a week, to get into his role as Second Lieutenant Levi Kendall. This act was noted by various other cast and crew on the set.
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Screenwriter James Vanderbilt wanted to fool a certain type of moviegoer. He said: " . . . those who say 'I know who the killer is' in the first ten minutes."
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John McTiernan really enjoyed working with John Travolta and Connie Nielsen on the fight scene. McTiernan said of this: "Take two cats, get a nice, dark closet, throw them in, and slam the door closed."
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The film was influenced by Akira Kurosawa's Rashômon (1950).
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As of June 2016, this is John McTiernan's most recent film.
For John McTiernan, the movie satisfied all the definitions of a true thriller. He said: "Something potentially horrific happened to a group of people who have completely vanished, and you follow a couple of people who are trying to figure it out, and it just keeps getting more and more dangerous, until, eventually, the whole thing turns upside down, and nothing that you thought was going on, was actually true."
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Second collaboration of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, who had appeared in Pulp Fiction (1994).
John Travolta visited the 1st Ranger Battalion in Savannah, Georgia, and observed live fire exercises, while preparing for his role.
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Samuel L. Jackson improvised a lot of his lines, of which, most of them weren't allowable for a PG-13 rating.
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It can rain for five to six days straight in the tropics. John McTiernan used rain to give the feeling of being in a "strange, enchanted place."
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Producer Mike Medavoy's choice of director was John McTiernan which was based on the director's adept use of the camera as a narrative presence in his films. It was particularly apt for this story in which incidents are told and retold from differing points of view. McTiernan said: "In this kind of story, the camera has to be active and comment on what's going on. The approach and the angles change, depending on whose version of the story we're watching. A soldier who is a dumb innocent in his version, becomes the mastermind in another character's retelling of the story. So the narrative style, has to subtly shift every time. It's like you're moving deeper and deeper into the jungle, if you will. It all has to accelerate, intensify, and play at a higher voltage as you go forward."
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James Vanderbilt said of this film's screenplay: "I always loved mysteries when I was a kid. I knew that someday I wanted to write one that had many twists, and had the audience guessing up until the last minute."
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Second collaboration of Samuel L. Jackson and John McTiernan since Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995).
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John McTiernan asked John Travolta and Connie Nielsen to tone down the sexual tension between their characters.
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About ninety percent of this movie was filmed in the dark.
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John Travolta had previously starred in another military suspense-thriller, The General's Daughter (1999).
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The name of the large cyclonic storm, that is featured throughout the movie, was "Hurricane Beth".
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John Travolta's sister Margaret Travolta plays a nurse.
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The film is book-ended with the music of Maurice Ravel's "Bolero". The first scene after the credits, and the film's closing shot, were both filmed in Panama during a rainstorm. Most of the movie, though, was filmed in Florida.
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James Vanderbilt had Taye Diggs in mind for Pike, early on in the writing process.
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The lead character of Tom Hardy (John Travolta), is named after The Hardy Boys.
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Giovanni Ribisi is a method actor, and stayed in character, and in bed, between every shot there.
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The name of the U.S. Army base, situated near the Panama Canal, was Fort Clayton.
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When John McTiernan was approached to direct, John Travolta had already been signed to portray the pivotal character of Tom Hardy, an ex-Ranger and DEA Agent, who has been suspended amidst allegations of taking bribes.
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The time that this movie takes place is December 31, 1999, which was perceived to be the New Year's Eve prior to the New Millenium. The New Millennium actually started on January 1, 2001.
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John McTiernan wanted to give the audience the sense of moving "deeper and deeper into the jungle."
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James Vanderbilt made good on the promise of a story with lots of twists and turns, said producer Mike Medavoy, Chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures. He said: "When I read the script for Basic (2003), I was captivated. It is packed with dark, Hitchcockian twists and turns. The story is told by several characters whose versions conflict with one another, which keeps the audience guessing as to what happened that day in the jungle, and why. It all leads up to a surprise ending that you never see coming."
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Bradley J. Fischer, co-Executive Producer on this movie, and Vice-President of Production for Phoenix Pictures, brought James Vanderbilt's screenplay to Mike Medavoy, who said: "What really sets this story apart, is the way it builds on the twists and turns, of successful military movies. You think you're getting a typical military thriller like The General's Daughter (1999) or A Few Good Men (1992), and then it totally derails you . . . turns you on your ear. It's incredibly satisfying when, as an audience member, you're outsmarted, only to realize that the truth was in front of your eyes throughout the entire journey."
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Debut producing credit of Bradley J. Fischer, who was a co-Executive Producer on this picture.
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The events of the film take place on November 1 and 2, 1999; as evidenced by the opening title cards and the fact that the base is mentioned to be closing. Fort Clayton, where the movie takes place closed on December 31, 1999.
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John Travolta teased Connie Nielsen a lot behind the scenes.
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Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta went on to appear on Marvel films. Jackson played Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Travolta played Howard Saint in The Punisher (2004).
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Intelligence, military agencies, and organizations referenced in this movie include the DEA, the FBI, the CIA, the CID, the U.S. Military, the Special Forces, and the U.S. Military Police.
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John Travolta improvised picking up the magazine, to add humor to one scene.
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Brian Van Holt and Samuel L. Jackson also appeared in S.W.A.T. (2003).
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John Travolta's character has the same name as actor Tom Hardy. Less known when Basic (2003) first debuted, that year, Tom Hardy appeared in Dot the I (2003) and LD 50 Lethal Dose (2003). He had previously appeared in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).
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According to John McTiernan, Samuel L. Jackson's look was inspired by Sergio Leone.
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The main production company, producing this film, was Phoenix Pictures. Giovanni Ribisi, who plays Second Lieutenant Levi Kendall in this movie, later appeared in Flight of the Phoenix (2004). At least three crew members - First Assistant Director Julian Wall, Art Department Coordinator Bruce Bisbey, and Second Assistant Director Douglas Plasse - worked on both movies.
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Captain Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen)'s telephone number is 334-5644, but no area code is given.
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The movie's opening title card reads: "Canal Zone: Panama".
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Basic (2003), and The Tailor of Panama (2001) are movies of intrigue, and both predominantly set in Panama, and include scenes in the region of the Panama Canal. Basic (2003) did a small amount of filming in Panama, whereas The Tailor of Panama (2001) did a much larger amount of filming there. At least five crew, and technician personnel, worked on both pictures.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the original script, Tom Hardy (John Travolta) was the main villain, and killed Master Sergeant Nathan West (Samuel L. Jackson).
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James Vanderbilt's goal was to make Captain Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen) the hero, not a naïve "hot girl."
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Taye Diggs and Brian Van Holt played dual roles, with both actors portraying the characters of Jay Pike and Sergeant Ray Dunbar.
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The title is taken from a line of dialogue, which states "murder is basic".
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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