Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Basic

MPAA Rating: R for violence and language

Reviewed by: Tim Emmerich
STAFF WRITER

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Crime Drama
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
2003
Relevant Issues
John Travolta and Connie Nielsen in “Basic,” courtesy of Columbia Pictures

murder in the Bible

death

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer

Starring: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Connie Nielsen, Harry Connick Jr., Taye Diggs | Directed by: John McTiernan | Produced by: Mike Medavoy, Lee Nelson, Dror Soref, Michael Tadross | Written by: James Vanderbilt, Cathy Rabin | Distributor: Columbia Tristar

Basic is a gritty murder mystery that attempts to combine action and mystery, but comes up short. As is typical for some war-type movies, there is harsh and foul language throughout—plus plenty of bullets and explosions.

In the jungles of Panama, a training mission for Army Rangers has gone awry. Five members of the team are missing. The two survivors are claiming they are dead, including Sergeant West (Samuel L. Jackson), their training officer. After Captain Julia Osborne’s (Connie Nielsen) investigation hits roadblocks, Tom Hardy (John Travolta) is called in. Hardy is a former Ranger who was trained by Sergeant West and later became an interrogator for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). He recently left law enforcement after allegations of corruption, specifically accused of taking a bribe. Osborne is not happy about having someone else mettle in her investigation, but is ordered to do so by her commanding officer. This adds to the film’s tension.

The visualization of the survivors’ recollections of the activities (providing several renditions of what people thought happened) was probably meant to add suspense, but mostly created confusion.

Offensive content—In addition to much offensive language, violence is heavy. People are shown dying in nasty ways. One of the survivors dies in a particularly ghastly manner. There is lots of blood in this and other scenes. A bare-breasted woman appears in a parade scene. Hardy adjusts his crotch as a way of intimating Osborne. There is lots of alcohol consumption and drugs are apparently involved in the mystery. It is implied that one member of the team is homosexual. Be prepared for lots of bad and disrespectful attitudes.

The only redeeming value of “Basic” is the ending, which leaves viewers rethinking the entire movie. However, from this reviewer’s perspective, Christians should avoid this film.

Violence: Heavy | Profanity: Extreme | Sex/Nudity: Mild

Viewer Comments
Positive
Positive—One thing I can easily report about this movie—NOTHING is as it seems! I saw an [unedited] version of this movie on a plane and was completely blown away… not in any way predictable, actually very difficult to follow if you’re not paying a LOT Of attention. QUASI-SPOILER: I was very impressed by the portrayal of the homosexual soldier.

Though his lifestyle is invariably condemned by the film, we realize that he is still a human being capable of telling the truth… we are called to love people of all walks of life, regardless of our disagreements. There are a few fairly violent scenes [Military-style], drugs references [also condemned], and quite a bit of language that, frankly, seems entirely irrelevant. All in all, an incredible movie for those who enjoy intensity and intrigue, but not for those with weak stomachs.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/4]
—Ctefanie Elena, age 17
Movie Critics
…If you’re going to pack your film with heartless violence and unlikable characters who spout obscenities, make sure… people will sit through your foul creation. My hope is that most moviegoers won’t bother…
—Lori Eaton, Focus on the Family
…Far too concerned with trying to fill its plot with purposefully questionable characters, motivations and twists, McTiernan and company make the basic error that usually befalls less seasoned filmmakers… forgetting to make a story and characters that viewers will care about…
—ScreenIt!
…‘Basic’ exists with no respect for objective reality. It is all smoke and no mirrors. If I were to see it again and again, I might be able to extract an underlying logic from it… We get versions of events from such differing points of view, indeed, that we yearn for a good old-fashioned omnipotent point of view to come in and slap everybody around.
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times