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Basic (2003)



Average Rating: 4.5/10
Reviews Counted: 142
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 112

Basic gets so needlessly convoluted in its plot twists that the viewer eventually loses interest.


Average Rating: 4.6/10
Critic Reviews: 37
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 29

Basic gets so needlessly convoluted in its plot twists that the viewer eventually loses interest.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 56,389

My Rating

Movie Info

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.


Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense

James Vanderbilt

Jul 8, 2003


Sony Pictures Entertainment - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (153) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (112) | DVD (29)

Director John McTiernan does a swell job with James Vanderbilt's sneaky script in keeping us guessing.

March 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You can fall asleep in the first reel, wake up at the end, and know as much as anyone else.

April 22, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Made up of remnants from other, better films.

April 10, 2003
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Nothing is as it appears, except the fact that nothing is as it appears.

April 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Basic] had a great sense of itself and it had a lot of fun taking us from one corner to the next and then spinning us around until we got dizzy and didn't know where we were. I like that.

March 31, 2003 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Travolta is a vital presence that constantly holds our attention, even when the script is threatening to lose it.

March 28, 2003 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Basically bad and sorry attempt at a thriller.

September 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A poor effort with a confusing story and ridiculous plot twist after plot twist.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

McTiernan's bitten off way more than he could chew, spicing up the Usual Suspects approach with a dash of Rashomon and a little of help from A Few Good Men.

April 21, 2004 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

Basic is one of those rare movies without even a single redeeming quality.

January 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

The problem is that we've been given nothing to make us care for any of these people, so when the mysteries unravel there's nothing in the answers that hit us at a gut level.

January 4, 2004 Full Review

A estrutura narrativa (obviamente inspirada em Rashomon) é interessante, mas a necessidade de criar reviravoltas surpreendentes praticamente destrói o filme, já que, ao final da projeção, nada mais faz sentido.

October 14, 2003
Cinema em Cena

Best described as military noir, Basic reunites John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in a kind of Pulp Fiction with rain and fatigues, plus a chaser of Rashomon on the side.

September 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Long Island Press
Long Island Press

Samuel L. Jackson's performance is the main reason to watch this ultimately disappointing mystery that thrives on audience deception and mass confusion.

September 9, 2003 Full Review Source: Radio Free Entertainment
Radio Free Entertainment

The final parts of this movie are the kind that you'd swear were slapped on by the studio, until you realise the whole story must have been built around them.

July 8, 2003

Fumbling the setup, the Die Hard helmer quickly loses his grip on the material, turning Basic into little more than a mechanical exercise in plotting.

June 3, 2003 Full Review Source:

I had to take on faith that the plot could, theoretically, be made sense of

May 18, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

Everyone involved just watched their stock price drop 79%.

May 15, 2003 Full Review Source:

Noisy, dark and headache-inducing, John McTiernan's Basic is one of those brain-twisting legal thrillers that can only be enjoyed by those determined not to worry about things like consistent internal logic

May 5, 2003 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Basic is one of those films that thinks itself clever in its use of confusion, when in reality it's just confusing. Sound confusing? Yeah, thought so.

April 30, 2003 Full Review Source: IGN Movies
IGN Movies

Nope, nothing subtle here. The whole movie isn't subtle. From the perpetual rain, to the high-anxiety shouting that every character seems to have at some point, to the constant reminder that nothing is as it seems, the movie is continuously doubling back

April 27, 2003 Full Review Source:

It would be one thing if McTiernan were saying something about truth's impenetrable nature -- really he's just jerking viewers into a state of indifference.

April 24, 2003 Full Review

The meat of the picture -- the contradictory flashback sequences -- are staged so haphazardly that the audience has no incentive to pay close attention.

April 20, 2003 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

With its catchy, one-word title and colorful cast of characters, Basic is just begging for a sequel: Basic 2: Explaining the Unresolved Plot Points of the First Movie.

April 17, 2003 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Basic

"Basic was a good movie with a lot of twists. Everytime I thought I had it figured out it changed on me again. It was surprising right down to the ending credits.
The movie is about the murder of Sgt. Nathan and most of his squad. The suspects are the rest of his squad that came back alive. Agent Tom Hardy is called in to investigate the murder with the help of Captain Juila Osborne. They don't really hit it off since Capt. Osborne believes she is more than capable of doing the investigation on her own. The story continues to change as the mystery of what happened to Sgt. West is unraveled.
The film has a pretty decent cast with a great performance from Travolta. I would see this one again."
February 6, 2013

Super Reviewer

Full of twists and turns, but none of them particularly exciting, it's almost a film that tries too hard, the filming, I felt was a little too dark, visually speaking. Watchable, but easily forgettable.
March 25, 2011

Super Reviewer

The movie was alright, but I wish they'd not pulled out the oldest story from the book for the ending. As if this weren't enough, its predictable twist is followed by several unpredictable twists. Now, this might be a positive point for some, but it turned me off. Besides being totally unnecessary, these twists were utterly nonsensical and ruin the ending of the movie. I'd have rather liked the movie as a thriller than as a suspense. Had it ended right before that predictable twist, I guess I'd have liked the movie more.
February 11, 2011

Super Reviewer

After dishing out twist after twist, many of which are predictable, this film saves the best till last! Very engrossing and unpredictable (as it turns out), this is a top thriller!
September 30, 2009

Super Reviewer

    1. Col. Bill Styles: This is about quality of life.
    – Submitted by Frances H (8 months ago)
    1. Vilmer: If it's on tape, it has to be true.
    – Submitted by Frances H (8 months ago)
    1. Agent Tom Hardy: You don't drink beer? Who doesn't drink beer?
    – Submitted by Frances H (8 months ago)
    1. Agent Tom Hardy: You can still eat in front of someone and not talk. My parents did it for years.
    – Submitted by Frances H (8 months ago)
View all quotes (4)

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