I had no expectations tonight as I went to a pre-screening of John Travolta's new military thriller, Basic
. After all, with Travolta movies, you can never tell, can you? When he's on, he's really on, and when he's not, he's, well, not.
Don't, however, go into this movie to see Travolta and and his Pulp Fiction
partner Samuel L. Jackson together again...they hardly ever share the screen.
The good news is this is a well crafted thriller. The writing is excellent, especially the dialogue between characters, and there's just the right amount of sarcasm and dark humor for a film that shouldn't forget what it's about- murder. The pacing is just right as well, fast enough to keep you a step behind the plot twist and turns, but not so fast that it leaves the viewer behind.
And, speaking of plot twists, there isn't a shortage of them here. In any thriller of this type, the rollercoaster plot only works if the actors can carry it off. In Basic
all of the actors, including the supporting cast, go above and beyond. Travolta gives an excellent performance here, matched perfectly by relative newcomer Connie Nielson. You may remember her from Gladiator
but you aren't likely to recognize her with the Tinkerbell haircut she sports here. Jackson does what he does best: He's one bad mutha.
But, in some ways, it's the supporting cast, including Tim Daly, Harry Connick Jr., and Taye Diggs that really shine.
I doubt this movie will be up for any awards this year, but it's still a well done film. There were only a few little loop-holes in the story and I really didn't register them until well after the movie ended, and I'd had more time to reflect. A word of caution, though; if you are averse to flashbacks...steer clear of Basic
This movie was entertaining and engaging; Travolta and Nielson had sparks, and their banter was well done. I can't count the major plot twists on one hand, and I almost guarantee you won't be able to predict what happens next, as you watch the movie unfold. Besides that, the film has a good balance between light and dark. It's not too heavy and doesn't take itself painfully seriously (as so many thrillers do) but niether does it try to infuse comedy in the wrong dose and at awkward times.
It might not be excellent and it's certianly not going to be one of those 'most talked about movie of the year' films, but it's a good, solid movie and a great way to spend a Friday night.
It's well acted, well written and well paced. I'd recommend Basic
to just about anybody who appreciates an intelligent thriller that's heavier on plot that body count. It's worth the price of admission and actually, it would make a great date movie thanks to the sexual tension between Travolta and Nielson.