The Masked Reviewer

Do you like films about military interrogations?  Well, even if you do, you may not like Basic.

The cast features the re-unification of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, their first film together since Pulp Fiction.  While they do have a couple of short scenes together, most of the film is about Travolta.  The acting is fine by everyone in the film, for the most part, with the exception of Connie Nielsen, the female lead who plays the eager yet frustrated rookie military interrogator.  How hard is it to fake a southern accent?  C'mon.  Even the Masked Reviewer can do a better dialect in prose!  Listen, y'all...now you'ns be sure to come back now, y'hear? 

Not good, huh?  Then imagine how bad Connie Nielsen's southern drawl was.  She'd have it in one line of dialogue, then it would disappear, then it would reappear.  It was distracting.

That's not the big problem with Basic.  The big problem is that it's a convoluted mess.  While you're watching the film, you think you sort of have an idea of what's going on.  But as the film progresses, it's clear that no one has an idea of what's going on.  There are a lot of "big twists", that seem to be thrown in to make sure that no one has any idea what the film is about or what the plot is. 

There are some people (you know who you are) who never get the plot of any film they see.  Those people sit in the theater and for whatever reason don't pay attention to the dialogue.  Maybe they go to movies for a reason other than the reason most people go to the movies.  Maybe they get easily distracted by the visuals.  But they sit there, having no idea what happened or why it happened.  They often talk to the people they went to the movie with, throughout the movie.  "Who's that?  Why is he carrying a gun?  Who's she?  What's she going to do?  Is that the girl from the beginning?  What happened to the burrito?" 

The Masked Reviewer believes that these people can still enjoy a film.  Even though they never know what's happening in a movie, they know when there's been some big twist or revelation, because the movie tells them with dramatic music and the reaction of the characters.  They sometimes ask "what happened?!" but other times, they just nod and say "oooh!" with the rest of the audience.  After seeing Basic, the Masked Reviewer knows what these people feel like.  Even after discussions with other people who viewed the film, it wasn't clear at all what happened or why.  You can understand the big twist, but the rest of the movie doesn't make sense. 

Part of the confusion is caused by the fact that the movie features repeated re-telling of the same incident, as recalled by various witnesses.  It gets repetitive, but you never wind up knowing exactly what was supposed to have happened.

The Masked Reviewer wants to be very clear, unlike the plot of Basic.  It's not a good movie.


DVD Extra Features: Director's commentary, trailers, two production featurettes.

Expectation from the Title: A movie with a plot that is simple and easy to follow.  It must be a trick name, like calling a fat guy "slim". 

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  John Travolta always enunciates his words.

The Pros: The acting isn't horrible.

The Cons: Too confusing and ultimately, not interesting at all.  Twisty for twisty's sake.  Bad southern drawl.


Copyright 2003, Michael D. Lynn