Viewed on 18 Jul 03   On viewing the previews of BASIC prior to its release, "success or failure" was the big question on everyone's mind - how would it do at the box office?   Having earlier directed blockbusters like Die Hard and Predator, and later having directed criminally negligent bombs like the Rollerball remake, Director John McTiernan's latest effort could have easily been very, very good or very, very bad.    But the wait is over.    BASIC is a well-scripted, excellently edited action-suspense thriller with superb acting all the way through.
If there are any complaints on the overall production, they would have to be that the soundtrack music thundered much too loudly and intrusively.   Also, too little time and effort was spent on characterizations, causing viewer confusion as to whom was actually who. The latter made all the more difficult when the cast were often all in near total darkness, dressed identically in jungle fatigues and soaked to the bone in a hurricane in the middle of a Central American jungle.
Tom Hardy (John Travolta), a Ranger dropout, and now a highly suspect and borderline DEA agent, is called back to the US Army's jungle training facility in Panama to lead an investigation into a Ranger training mission gone terribly wrong.   Only two of six Ranger team members make it back, one is critically wounded (Levi - Giovanni Ribisi), the other (Dunbar - Brian Van Holt), is immediately detained on suspicion of murder of the other team members.   Agent Hardy takes over from Lt Julia Osborn (Connie Nelson) as chief interrogator, causing the expected resentment, but resentment wanes quickly as the two begin to uncover a bizarre tale of intrigue and treachery.
The twists and turns in the storyline will keep you guessing the whole 95 minutes.   And any of you out there who claim you guessed the ending beforehand are prevaricators of the first order.
Enduring Line or Phrase:  "This place has always had a special way of dealing with profit and death."
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