Basic (2003)



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

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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.
R (for violence and language)
Action & Adventure , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
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Connie Nielsen
as Osborne
Tim Daly
as Styles
Taye Diggs
as Pike
Dash Mihok
as Mueller
Tait Ruppert
as Jepp Driver
Dena Johnston
as Nurse #2
Nick Loren
as Helicopter Pilot #1
Cliff Fleming
as Helicopter Pilot #2
Steven Maye
as CID officer
Jonathan Rau
as G.I. on the Tarmac
Chris Byrne
as MP, MP #1
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Critic Reviews for Basic

All Critics (142) | Top Critics (37)

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

Full Review… | March 31, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

April 22, 2003
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Made up of remnants from other, better films.

April 10, 2003
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 1, 2003
Village Voice
Top 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
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | March 28, 2003
Toronto Star
Top Critic

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."


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.

Lady D'arbanville
Lady D'arbanville

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.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

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