John Travolta gives a great performance in the extremely disappointing
film, “BASIC,” available on dvd from COLUMBIA TRISTAR.
The film disappoints in many ways, the first, being that this is Director John McTiernan’s 2nd horrible film(He also did “ROLLERBALL)in a row. Intended to be a thriller, after an intriguing opening sequence, there’s plenty of reason for viewers to scratch their head, but none of it due to suspense, rather it’s due to one being stupefied by the goings on here! A Specials Forces unit has met some mysterious demise in the jungle during a training exercise. One of the survivors will only answer questions if interrogated by a former ranger. Travolta plays Tom Hardy, the ex-ranger with great interrogation skills. Together with Lt. Osborne(Connie Nielsen), the duo play good cop/bad cop, and begin to unravel a complex cover-up and multiple murders, relating to drug smuggling and more. Travolta is as good as Nielsen is bad, and again, Travolta is really good! It’s hard to believe the director didn’t realize how woefully miscast Ms. Nielsen is here! She’s just terrible! But, then again, it’s also hard to comprehend how the McTiernan didn’t realize how many problems exist in the script, either!
The stupefying climax to the film, is meant to be cute and
surprising. Any surprise is due to it making absolutely no sense whatsoever!
It really strives to play as a lighter “USUAL SUSPECTS,” but it’s not anywhere
near that film in quality.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has preserved the film’s 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. The image is fine, but varies in quality. The first half of the film has an overly soft look to it. Still, most of the film offers great detail. Colors are fine, but vary as well, appearing restrained in some scenes, and vibrant in others.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has presented a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for this release. This is an aggressive mix! It really packs a whallop! While the script fails to achieve the twists and turns it desires, this mix doesn’t! The viewer is engulfed by the intricate soundmix in virtually every scene, almost to the point of a dizzying impact. While there are numerous layers of effects and musical cues, the dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has provided some extras for this release. Director McTiernan provides a running commentary. But, while he offers some worthwhile recollections of the film’s production, there are also plenty of long gaps. This isn’t a commentary worth listening to, unless one’s a “huge” fan of the film.
Screenwriter James Vanderbuilt offers a partial reading from the script, as well as information about changes that occurred in the filmmaking process. There are also some deleted scenes, all of which were rightfully excised.
“A DIRECTOR’S DESIGN” is a “behind-the-scenes” look at the film’s production, which, in spite of some overindulgence, is actually entertaining.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has included 7 trailers.