" Look how she moves! That’s just like Jell-O on springs. "
— Jack Lemmon (regarding Marilyn Monroe), Some Like it Hot

MRQE Top Critic

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

With any luck, The Sorcerer's Apprentice will conjure up a bigger audience on Blu-ray. —Matt Anderson (DVD review...)

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Basic is baffling. It’s Rashomon directed by John “Rollerball” McTiernan. It has the plot complexity of Mission Impossible without all the cool stunts. After about three or four twists I started losing track of important details. By the end I had to take it on faith that the plot held water and that it could, theoretically, be made sense of, so long as I had a four-dimensional Gantt chart.

Former Army Ranger Tom Hardy (John Travolta) has only seven hours to help Lt. Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen) investigate the deadly failure of a Ranger training mission in Panama. Only two soldiers out of six on the mission survived. It appears that one of the grunts may have killed their sergeant (Samuel L. Jackson).

Travolta does Rashomon in Basic
Travolta does Rashomon in Basic

The story of the possible murder is told in flashback, first from one point of view, then from another, and finally from the point of view of the investigators’ own hypotheses.

Whether Basic is any good or not depends on whether the plot survived all the twists, and after only one viewing, that’s hard to determine. There isn’t enough else in the movie (except for Travolta’s buffed-up, macho, charisma and fidgety energy) to justify a recommendation outside of complex (or is it just complicated?) plot.

  • JACK: I Agree with your review. Dumb film. August 5, 2014 reply