Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 33
  2. Negative: 15 out of 33
  1. 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.
  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. 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!
  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. It begins in a muddle and ends in confusion.
  10. 20
    Watching a movie should never be such torture.
  11. 20
    You might be tempted to say, "Huh?" Or, if you're in the theater, to leave. But wait -- there's less.
  12. Reviewed by: Ed Park
    Such confusion makes the script-flipping finale something of a respite, as it gives one an excuse to forget everything that's happened.
  13. 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.
  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

Mixed or average reviews- based on 40 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 28
  2. Negative: 17 out of 28
  1. Aug 13, 2010
    I am the kind of film viewer who has the knack of losing a plot. Very quickly. So when I came to the end of Basic for the first time, thoroughly confused and befuddled, I supposed it was just me and that I needed to get my brain in gear next time. But it wasn't just me and no amount of brain power seems to help sort fact from fiction in this foggy mystery. Travolta and Nielsen play ex-ranger Tom Hardy and Captain Osbourne who are thrown together to investigate the disappearance of Sgt. West (Jackson) in a training exercise. Cue a baffling maze of twists and turns in which some of the key players are there and then not; some are killed off and then not; one turns out to be another...or not? And so on... but you do have to admire Osbourne for sticking it out and unravelling it all at the end. If it was me overseeing this mess, a bottle of wine and a darkened room would be where I was headed. I enjoyed the dark jungle action sequences, Jackson getting mad and the sort of chemistry Travolta and Nielsen had in their roles, but a lot of this was lost in the fog that shrouded much of this film. If like me, you are attracted by the Jackson / Travolta combo, you may be disappointed to find they share about five minutes on screen. Just don't expect to care much about either of their characters by the time it happens. Full Review »