Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 143


Audience Score

User Ratings: 56,735
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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. 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 cajoles a confession out of Dunbar, who claims that Sgt. West and the missing Rangers have been murdered and their bodies blown away by the hurricane. When they later interview Kendall, he confirms that the other Rangers and West are dead. But, in almost every other way, his story contradicts Dunbar's. What happened to West and his Ranger team? And what were they really doing out there in the jungle? As each layer reveals more lies and greater deceptions, Hardy and Osborne inch towards the horrible truth about the fate of the missing Rangers.


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Critic Reviews for Basic

All Critics (143) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (113)

Audience Reviews for Basic

  • Mar 14, 2015
    The screenplay starts off alright, promising a "Rashomon" type narrative, but it delivers a series of outrageous twists instead.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 21, 2012
    Basic is a suspense thriller from director John McTiernan that's overly complicated and takes a few too many turns. The story follows an investigation into a training accident in which 4 officers have gone missing and are presumed dead. John Travolta, Connie Nielsen, Samuel L. Jackson, and Giovanni Ribisi lead the cast and deliver some really good performances. And the story is well told, and effectively builds the suspense and mystery...until the last act. It tries to be a bit too clever and it ends up backfiring. Plot failings aside, Basic still manages to deliver and intense and suspense drama with a captivating mystery.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 23, 2012
    Relying heavily on John Travolta's skills in front of the camera, Basic is held down mostly by its debilitating sets (basically just an office and a hospital bed) while completely keeping the audience in the dark with contradicting stories of what actually happened during the routine training gone bad, until, at one point, nothing makes much sense. Saved by an unforgettable twist ending, however, Basic is still able to reach a level of mediocrity worthy of at least being called an average thriller.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer
  • May 06, 2012
    the film is just a mess of ideas but if you can get past this you'll realise there is much more underneath the surface. twist after twist finally leads to an odd finale
    Brendan N Super Reviewer

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