When the feared and hated commando Sgt Nathan West (Samuel L. Jackson) and other elite Special Forces trainees disappear during a military exercise in a hurricane amidst the jungle of Panama, ex-Amy Ranger turned DEA agent Tom Hardy (John Travolta) is recruited to investigate and assist head of Fort Clayton’s military police Capt Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen). But nothing is as it seems and the contradicting testimonies of Raymond Dunbar (Brian Van Holt) and Levi Kendall (Giovanni Ribisi) add to the confusion. And as Hardy begins to scratch below the surface, it is clear that there is much more at stake.

Deception is their most dangerous weapon.

John McTiernan is a director who\'s made some fine action thrillers: Die Hard; The Hunt for Red October, his career has been in somewhat of a decline in recent years, how does his latest film Basic measure up? The film is set in the Panama Canal zone where one rainy night a group of six American army rangers are dropped into the jungle on a routine exercise with their loathed leader Sergeant West, Samuel L Jackson. 17 hours later with intimation that something has gone terribly wrong the Army base Colonel Bill Styles, Tim Daly, helicopters out to find his men shooting at one another on the ground and only two survivors. West is missing with two other men, presumed dead. One of the survivors Dunbar, Brian Van Holt, refuses to talk to the head of military police Captain Osbourne, Connie Nelson, the other, Giovanni Ribisi, is wounded in hospital. Styles calls in his old mate DEA agent Tom Hardy, John Travolta to assist with the investigation - even though Tom is himself under suspicion for having taken a bribe from the drug cartels. The film has various versions of what happened out there in jungle, none of them particularly logical or even very interesting. James Vanderbilt\'s screenplay has enough twists and turns to make your head spin. Just when you thought you were getting a handle on what\'s happening, whoops! ... the film goes in another direction. You come out of the film wondering who did what to whom and why and then you realise you don\'t care. As for the performances Travolta struts his stuff, Jackson revisits his bad-ass persona, Giovanni Ribisi overacts noticeably, the others are only serviceable, including Harry Connick Jr. as a doctor on the base. A deep sense of lack of credibility runs through this mish-mash. It\'s not just the rain in Panama that causes Basic to be a damp squib of a movie.


1 hour 37 min