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DVD Reviews:  Basic

The Final Say!

Feature Score:
DVD Extras Score

Reviewed by Tory Favro
Distributed by:
Warner Home Video
Running Time: 94 Minutes

I love a good murder mystery and this movie certainly seems to fit the bill to a tee.  A drill sergeant has been killed on what would have seemed to be a straight forward training session in the jungle. Every one who went on the trip had a reason to hate the sadistic man or want him dead. There are almost no survivors and the two who are able to talk are lying and under suspicion of having killed their team.

It's confusing yet intriguing,  but overall Basic would definitely get the thumbs up from my good self.

Captain Osborne played by Connie Nielsen is the Marshall in charge of finding out exactly what went wrong. When the men refuse to speak to her and request one of their own, a Ranger, the base commander turns to an old friend that he knows, an ex ranger, now DEA agent in disgrace by the name of Tom Hardy (John Travolta). Together the two of them must work through the lies and deceit and get to the bottom of the story before the prisoners are transferred out of the base and  their secrets taken with them.

Whilst some won't appreciate how many twists there are in this tale, I was impressed. Every time that I thought I had a handle on the story, I was thrown for another loop. You can be the decider on whether the final twist broke the camel's back, but it certainly worked for me.

As far as being a good looking and sounding disc, Basic took the cake in terms of technical excellence with at only one time the audio being slightly off for the shortest of periods and unless you are anal about that sort of thing like I am, you won't even notice it. All the rest of the audio is crystal clear with all channels getting a great working out including the subwoofer accentuating the multitude of the explosions, gunshots and the persistent thunderstorm that is prevalent for almost the whole movie.

The picture is another example of what DVD's look like when they are done properly with everything crystal clarity, no low level sounds or artefacts that I could make out despite the fact that much of the movie does take part in darkened areas. All shadows are crisp and clear with blacks looking great throughout and no other colours creeping into the mix when they are visible.

It's an odd one but I didn't get a great deal out of the audio commentary which was by Director John McTiernan. The only problem is that you will almost find that when it's only the director or actor by themselves doing the commentary, there are huge lulls in the process and quite frankly he is dull to the point of turning the commentary off. It would have been better featuring an actors commentary where the stars just naturally play off each other. I know it's harping on but he doesn't change tone, doesn't seem to care too much about the film, lighting or effects and in essence I was just watching the film twice over. As an example after a period of about five minutes with absolutely nothing, McTiernan blurts out how John Travolta has grown into a good looking 45 year old man, such a strong face! Snore! Or he'll seem to head off in an very interesting direction and then not elaborate on anything he has hinted at. Boring!

The director's design featurette is far more enlightening as is the writers perspective, give the commentary a miss and go straight for both of these. Finally capping these off is your stock standard trailer that doesn't add a great deal to the overall experience




Basic Features

  • Audio Commentary

  • Director's Design Featurette

  • A Writer's Perspective

  • Theatrical Trailer


 Copyright 2003