Basic

Metascore
34

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 33
  2. Negative: 15 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. When the film stumbles to its last and silliest conclusion, you realize much of the plot line was unnecessary -- or couldn't have happened at all!
  2. Travolta is the least of the film's problems. With a script by James Vanderbilt, whose first credit was for a movie about the tooth fairy ("Darkness Falls"), and directed by John McTiernan, last seen struggling with "Rollerball," Basic is a fundamental failure.
  3. 38
    Falls flat on two fronts: It's neither deep and interesting enough to be a brainteaser nor sufficiently thrilling to count as a mindless diversion.
  4. 38
    An overly convoluted, tiresome mystery that exists primarily to antagonize the audience, Basic consists almost entirely of dense exposition, then concludes by laughing at anyone who tried to pay attention.
  5. They made a movie without one basic ingredient: the story.
  6. 25
    With style and energy from the actors, with every sign of self-confidence from the director, with pictures that were in focus and dialogue that you could hear, the movie descended into a morass of narrative quicksand. By the end, I wanted to do cruel and vicious things to the screenplay.
  7. Travolta and Jackson have some effective scenes, but Nielsen is lacking in charisma, and James Vanderbilt's screenplay ought to be court-martialed.
  8. Another depressingly empty action thriller.
  9. 20
    You might be tempted to say, "Huh?" Or, if you're in the theater, to leave. But wait -- there's less.
  10. 20
    Watching a movie should never be such torture.
  11. It begins in a muddle and ends in confusion.
  12. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    10
    I must confess that I was outsmarted by the ending, but by that time my brain had been bludgeoned into a state just north of stupor.
  13. Reviewed by: Ed Park
    10
    Such confusion makes the script-flipping finale something of a respite, as it gives one an excuse to forget everything that's happened.
  14. Basic really brings to mind a Travolta film from 2000, "Battlefield Earth," in that it's so astonishingly awful it becomes a sort of kinky pleasure; just when you think Travolta has fallen to the bottom of the barrel, he pulls out a shovel and dons his miner's helmet to see what lies beneath.
User Score
5.0

Mixed or average reviews- based on 50 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 34
  2. Negative: 17 out of 34
  1. Jul 30, 2016
    10
    Really good film with strong, good actors. It is an action film with a twist. Probably enjoyable by most ages over 13.If you liked FightReally good film with strong, good actors. It is an action film with a twist. Probably enjoyable by most ages over 13.If you liked Fight Club,Sixth Sense,Memento,Identity & The General's Daughter then watch this.
    Sent to investigate a training mission that goes wrong,nothing is as it seems.John Travolta returns to form as a military man ( he is brilliant in General's Daughter) the very qunitessential Prince oF Cool & If you think that is good then the King of Cool Samuel L Jackson is also in it.
    Highly recommend as a good crime thriller & great for Christmas time present
    Full Review »
  2. Jul 30, 2016
    10
    Alright, yes this sort of film has been made before (Courage Under Fire) and yes it is a very military film. If you are one of those peopleAlright, yes this sort of film has been made before (Courage Under Fire) and yes it is a very military film. If you are one of those people who watch military films because of the guns and blood and guts then you won't enjoy this. That is not because this doesn't have those things, it does, but this is a thriller not a shoot'em up.
    On to the film; the film itself is very mysterious, you don't quite know whats happening some of the time. Don't worry, this is meant to happen and it only adds to the film. Certain reviewers slated this film, probably because they enjoy shoot'em ups. This film doesn't focus on the weapons used by the 75th Army Regiment (US Army Rangers), or their soldiering tactics. This focuses on soldiers going through tough training, you might relate it to Royal Marines training, psychological and muscular rather than just the latter. I won't give away the plot, but this is a great film, not what you might expect from either Travolta or Jackson.
    If you liked Courage Under Fire, or simply like thrillers with twists (and primarily do know a little bit about the military, not just guns) then you will like this film.
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 30, 2016
    10
    When things go wrong in the armed forces, an investigative procedure often follows. In this film, when you think you've got it figured out,When things go wrong in the armed forces, an investigative procedure often follows. In this film, when you think you've got it figured out, you're wrong... and the suspense just keeps culminating, and you end up on the edge of your sofa trying to figure out what went wrong, and you just can't until the very end. You're literally gobsmacked.

    Travolta and L. Jackson are truly amazing in their performances in Basic, as they were in Pulp Fiction.
    Full Review »