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Basically bad and sorry attempt at a thriller.
  • Review Date: July 8, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

What parents need to know


Shooting, grenades, characters killed; intense peril.


Sexual references


Very strong language

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, drug dealing

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a very violent movie with many character deaths. Characters smoke (one who gave up smoking years earlier takes a cigarette to relieve stress). Characters have alcohol and drug abuse problems and some characters deal in illegal pharmaceuticals and cocaine. Characters use very strong language.

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What's the story?

In BASIC, John Travolta plays Tom Hardy, a DEA agent called in to investigate some mysterious deaths at his old Ranger base in Panama. One surviving soldier has returned from an arduous training mission, but three others have not, and he refuses to talk to anyone but a fellow Ranger. He talks to Hardy, but the story he tells is contradicted by the other survivor, the gay son of one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Giovanni Ribisi), who is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound. Each tells their view of the story, with multiple versions shown in flashbacks.

Is it any good?


The "basic" premise of this poorly-constructed thriller is to tell you one thing and then turn it upside down and then do that again about six more times in ninety minutes. By the time we have seen multiple variations of the same story, we really don't care anymore which version is right. It doesn't help much that the final answer is so nonsensical.

The dialogue is terrible. Fortunately, it's frequently drowned out by the incessant rainstorms that howl throughout all the flashbacks. The rain also makes it difficult to tell the characters apart. Those excited to see Travolta reunited with his Pulp Fiction co-star Samuel L. Jackson should know that they appear together only very briefly, and, in any event, their performances are among the most single-dimensioned they've ever given. Jackson just yells and Travolta just grins. Furthermore, Connie Nielson has the worst attempt at a Southern accent in memory.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various forms of betrayal and loyalty depicted in this film.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 28, 2003
DVD release date:July 7, 2003
Cast:Connie Nielsen, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson
Director:John McTiernan
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:98 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence and language.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Twisting Thriller!

Really good story, if not a little confusing! Lots of action. Some drug use and drinking. Awesome twists.
Adult Written byfritzsky April 9, 2008
Teen, 14 years old Written byTangOrang55 April 9, 2008

MIlitary Thriller with a great ending

So the main reason I rented this movie was to see Brian Van Holt who plays Dunbar. I thought it would be really horrible, but I was surprised. While it is definitely not Oscar worthy, It was pretty good. The twist at the end is also great.


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