Basic (2003)

(In theaters, March 2003) There’s a fine line between a good and a bad twist ending, but Basic stepped over the line well before its final few minutes, roughly at about the time it becomes obvious that the film will make absolutely no sense. Good twist endings allow you to go back and watch the film in an entirely new light, but no such exercise is possible with Basic. This isn’t a Rashomon-like exercise in truth-telling… not when everyone’s lying with radically versions of the story that have no reasonable reason to exist. Don’t bother trying to make sense of the film; smarter people than us all have tried and failed. (Can anyone explain the sudden closet fight/kiss? I mean; really?) Oh well; at least John Travolta is a lot of fun to watch throughout, perhaps the only reason anyone would have to sit through this mess. The headache-inducing cinematography is filled with rain, thunder and lighting, making this film best enjoyed at home rather than the theatre. It’s a measure of how the film squanders its potential that it features two of the most attractive women working in film today (Connie Nielsen and the luscious Roselyn Sanchez) only to stick them in deeply unattractive outfits. Not to mention the waste of such actors as Samuel L. Jackson (in what amounts to a quasi-cameo), Taye Diggs or Harry Connick Jr. A lot of missed opportunities here, in a film that ought to have been much better. It’s still quite entertaining -the ending alone makes it all seem pretty cool-, but it could have been much, much better.

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