April 19, 2004


Basic. What a title. You see the previews on HBO: Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, berets, jungle, guns, camos, so you think of basic training (at least I did). You're never really sure what Basic refers to, though I think, during the course of the film, I caught a reference to some aspect of questioning, as "basic."

Perhaps "basic" refers to the approach to writing the script. The screenplay is somewhat complex however -- there are very compelling questions that cause you to watch. I got sucked in last night at midnight after watching The Sopranos and Deadwood. I was tired wanted to go to bed, but found myself highly curious as to why Sgt. West (Jackson) got blasted in the jungle. Why someone might want to do that is pretty obvious at the outset, but Army Rangers get in trouble if they kill their CO and get caught, no matter the level of jerk demonstrated by said CO.

Travolta is key to the story, but he doesn't wear a uniform. He's not in the Army any more. You can see that he did something wrong, or was thought to have done something wrong, so he go booted out of the service. However, he has a great reputation for interrogation and getting info out of somebody, so he gets called in to help with this extraordinary circumstance. One guy wounded, who happens to be the son of the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or is it Staff of Chief Joints? I forget. There is another unwounded, but apparently the other four principals are dead after a maneuver in the central american jungle.

The unfortunate son is also gay, but this has little to do with the story, it's just a stigma he carries to add spice and possibilities.

Between these two guys you get about six different versions of who got killed when and by whom, and who is a drug runner, and who is missing their grenade, and why in the hell did they put Harry Connick, Jr in this? (He's a white coated doctor so at least we didn't have to see him in an army uniform.)

Ultimately things are not as they seem, even though you are not at all sure what they seem to be either. In fact, it's really not a bad story. And the story is not that basic in the end.

There are about 3 levels of mindscrew here. Not bad for a 95 minute movie. It goes at least one step too far, but that's okay. I like a film, that in the end has you saying, "How bizarre..." no matter how improbable the circumstance. Movies are not about reality. You have to accept this if you are going to be a movie fan. There is no reason to approach a film like Basic, any differently than you would a film like Hellboy.

Posted by Wayne at April 19, 2004 03:14 PM

'Basic' is anything but. After now seeing it three times I think I get it. Call me a 'section 8' for watching it this many times. btw:It bugs a bit that you must leave your email address here in order to comment.

Posted by: Ron at April 20, 2004 06:13 PM

Maybe I should watch it again. I wasn't totally clear on what purpose the underground freak boys and girl served.

I hate it when somebody leaves an insult, and doesn't have the balls to identify themselves. You can use a bogus email address.

Posted by: Wayne at April 20, 2004 10:36 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?