REVIEW: SAVAGES

CAST

Taylor Kitsch (John Carter)
Blake Lively (Green Lantern)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)
John Travolta (The Punisher)
Benicio del Toro (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Demián Bichir (The Heat)
Sandra Echeverría (The Secret Life of Pets)
Emile Hirsch (alpha Dog)
Joaquín Cosío (Hot Pursuit)
Mia Maestro (Alias)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Joel David Moore (Julia X)
Trevor Donovan (Takers)
Ali Wong (American Housewife)
Leonard Roberts (Mom)

Best friends Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are marijuana growers in Laguna Beach, California. Chon, a former Navy SEAL, smuggled the seeds for the plants out of Afghanistan. Ben, a University of California, Berkeley graduate in business and botany, cultivates the marijuana. The seeds yield a particularly potent strain, which develops a wide customer base. Chon and Ben become wealthy, and Ben devotes time and money to charity work in Africa and Asia. They are both openly in a relationship with Ophelia Sage (Blake Lively).The trio receives a video from Mexican drug-cartel enforcer Miguel “Lado” Arroyo (Benicio del Toro) of severed heads and a chainsaw, and Arroyo demands a meeting at which the cartel offers a partnership. Although Chon and Ben offer to hand over their network and get out of the business, the cartel wants their expertise and insists on a partnership. Chon and Ben make plans with Ophelia to go to Indonesia for a year, not telling her that they are fleeing the cartel. They speak to corrupt DEA agent Dennis Cain (John Travolta), who is on the take from them and who urges them to join the cartel. Ophelia is kidnapped by Lado’s gang; Chon and Ben are notified of the kidnapping by a video call from cartel leader Elena Sánchez (Salma Hayek), who threatens to harm Ophelia if they decline the partnership.They discuss the situation with Dennis, who tells them that Elena is facing the loss of her political connections in Mexico (foiling her efforts to move into the US). Since she has already lost most of her family, Dennis says that he has nothing on her that can help them. Chon stabs Dennis in the hand and demands DEA intelligence so they can attack Elena. With help from Chon’s Navy SEAL friends, he and Ben attack a cartel money convoy and kill seven of Elena’s men.Ophelia, held in horrible conditions, demands to speak to whoever is in charge. Lado drugs and rapes her in retaliation for going over his head. Elena, traveling to the US to visit her daughter and deal with the escalating situation, has Ophelia brought with her. Chon and Ben frame high-ranking cartel member Alex (Demián Bichir) as an agent of Elena’s rival, El Azul. With Dennis’ help, they falsify evidence and give it to Lado. Lado tortures Alex to force a confession. After Alex confesses, Lado covers him with petrol and forces Ben to ignite the petrol; Ophelia is forced to watch. Lado double-crosses Elena and begins working with El Azul.Ben and Chon pay Dennis $3 million for information about Elena’s daughter, Magda (Sandra Echeverria), and the name of his informant in Elena’s cartel. They kidnap Magda and video-call Elena to establish that they are now in control. With Elena at their mercy, they arrange a desert meeting to exchange Ophelia and Magda at which snipers from both sides are in position. Elena asks who revealed her daughter’s location, and Chon tells her it was Lado. She tries to kill Lado, but he shoots her first; a firefight erupts, and Chon is shot several times. Lado is shot in the back by Ben, but shoots him in the neck before Ophelia kills him. Ben is mortally wounded, and Chon injects him, Ophelia and himself with a fatal overdose so they can die together.Ophelia wakes from a nightmare. At the meeting, Lado steals Elena’s car and escapes as Dennis leads DEA agents to the scene. Everyone but Lado and Magda are arrested. Because Ben has incriminating information about Dennis, Dennis identifies Ben and Chon as his informants in the cartel and they are released. Elena is sentenced to thirty years in prison, and El Azul and Lado create a new cartel called the Azulados. Ben, Chon and Ophelia leave the country and live in a beachside hut, possibly in Indonesia. Ophelia wonders if they are living like savages.Savages was an excellent movie. Plain and simple. It was filled with the perfect amount of action and drama. I thought the acting was very good and the storyline was phenomenal.

 

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REVIEW: BROKEN ARROW

CAST

John Travolta (The Punisher)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Samantha Mathis (American Psycho)
Delroy Lindo (Up)
Bob Gunton (Argo)
Frank Whaley (Vacancy)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Casey Biggs (Star Trek: DS9)
Kurtwood Smith (Agent Carter)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
French Stewart (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad)

Major Vic Deakins (John Travolta) and Captain Riley Hale (Christian Slater) are pilots in the United States Air Force. After a sparring match, they are assigned to a top secret evening exercise over Utah, flying a B-3 Stealth Bomber (a fictional iteration of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber) with two B83 nuclear bombs on board. After successfully evading Air Force radar during the exercise, Deakins distracts and attacks Hale. A struggle ensues, ending when Deakins ejects Hale. Deakins then releases the bombs from the plane without detonating them, and reports that Hale’s gone rogue. He then ejects from the bomber himself, leaving it to crash on the mountainside over the Utah canyons.broken-arrow-john-travolta-small-head-2

A search and rescue team is sent to recover the warheads. They do not find the warheads and report a “Broken Arrow”, a situation wherein nuclear weapons are missing. The team later locates the warheads in a canyon but are killed by mercenaries, including Sgt. Kelly (Howie Long), a corrupt member of the team. Deakins arrives moments later and plots his next move with Pritchett (Bob Gunton), the operation’s financier. They plan to blackmail the government with the threat of detonating the warhead in a civilian area. Hale survives the ejection and is found by Park Ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis). He convinces her to help him track down Deakins and foil his plot. After recovering one of the warheads from a hijacked Humvee and escaping to a nearby copper mine, Hale attempts to disable them using a safety feature which would render them unusable, by intentionally entering the arming code incorrectly. However, Deakins had anticipated this possibility, and rigged the device. As a result, Hale’s action instead arms the warhead, setting the detonation timer for 30 minutes.tftds_shot7lUnable to disarm the warhead, Hale hides the unarmed one deep in an abandoned mine. Deakins arrives and secures the unarmed warhead. He then shortens the detonation time to 13 minutes and destroys the keyboard so the device cannot be stopped, then leaves Hale and Terry to die. A NEST team helicopter chases Deakins’ team. During the chase, Deakins kills Pritchett when he becomes fed up with the latter’s complaints. Hale and Terry escape from the mine via an underground river just before the bomb detonates. The bomb’s EMP destroys the NEST helicopter, allowing Deakins to escape. Terry and Hale track him to a motorboat used for transporting the warhead. While trying to steal the boat, Terry is forced to hide on board while Deakins moves the warhead. Military forces rescue Hale.lovers-vow2Hale deduces that Deakins intends to use a train to transport the warhead. Travelling on helicopter with Colonel Wilkins (Delroy Lindo), Hale locates and infiltrates the train, and finds Terry. A gunfight ensues and the helicopter is destroyed; Wilkins and most of Deakins’ mercenaries are killed. With his own helicopter sabotaged by Hale and his plan falling apart, Deakins decides to detonate the nuke regardless. Not wanting to die, Kelly holds Deakins at gunpoint and orders him to disarm the weapon. Hale takes advantage of the situation and kicks Kelly out of the train to his death.Terry detaches the rear section of the train (with the bomb) from the front, but gets into a shootout with the engineer. The latter is shot and falls on the train brakes, causing the train to stop. The detached boxcars continue to coast at high speed. Meanwhile, Deakins, still in possession of a device that can either disarm or detonate the bomb instantly, forces Hale to drop his gun and challenges him to close-quarters combat. Hale eventually overpowers Deakins, acquires the detonator, disarms the warhead and leaps out of the train. As the detached boxcars slam into the halted front half, the warhead flies into Deakins, and the entire train derails and explodes, incinerating him.Hale finds Terry and the damaged nuclear warhead. The two formally introduce themselves to each other amidst the wreckage.tales-from-the-darkside-deborah-harry-blondie-matthew-lawrenceTravolta ham’s it up a bit but makes an impressive villain. Slater is a bit underplayed as the hero. The action is fast flowing with no disjointed bits for love scenes etc. The special effects are good and as with most modern day action movies you have to sit back and watch, tongue in cheek for the most part, letting your vision take control and ignore some of the more unbelievable bits.

REVIEW: SWORDFISH

CAST

John Travolta (The Punisher)
Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine)
Halle Berry (X-Men)
Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2 & 3)
Sam Shepard (Black Hawk Down)
Vinnie Jones (Arrow)
Drea de Matteo (The Good Life)
Rudolf Martin (Buffy)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
William Mapother (Powers)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)

Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) is a hacker. Having served time for infecting the FBI’s Carnivore program with a computer virus, he is now on parole but forbidden from touching computers. His alcoholic ex-wife Melissa (Drea de Matteo), who married a rich porn producer and is currently a part-time porn actress has sole custody over their daughter Holly, and a restraining order preventing him from visiting the latter. One day, he is solicited by Ginger Knowles (Halle Berry), speaking for her boss Gabriel Shear (John Travolta), for his hacking skills. He goes to meet Gabriel in Los Angeles, where he is put on the spot to crack a secure government server within a minute while simultaneously held at gunpoint and receiving fellatio. Successful, Gabriel offers Stanley $10 million to program multi-headed worm, a “hydra”, to siphon $9.5 billion from several government slush funds.

Stanley begins work, learning that Gabriel leads Black Cell, a secret group created by J. Edgar Hoover to launch retaliatory attacks against terrorists that threaten the United States. He also privately discovers Ginger is a DEA agent working undercover, and further is surprised to discover a corpse that looks like Gabriel. He goes to see Holly home from school but finds he is being followed by FBI agent J.T. Roberts (Don Cheadle), who had previously caught Stanley. Roberts, though monitoring Stanley closely, is more interested in Gabriel as he does not appear on any government database, and after learning that another hacker, Axl Torvalds (Rudolf Martin), had been killed by Gabriel’s men, warns Stanley to be cautious. Stanley opts to secretly code a back door in his hydra that reverses the money transfer after a short period. Meanwhile, Senator Reisman (Sam Shepard), who oversees Black Cell, learns the FBI has started tracking Gabriel and orders him to stand down. Gabriel refuses, and narrowly avoids an assassination attempt ordered by Reisman. Gabriel personally kills Reisman in revenge and continues his plan.

Stanley delivers the hydra to Gabriel and leaves to see Holly, only to find that Gabriel has killed Melissa and her husband and kidnapped Holly, framing Stanley. Stanley has no choice but to participate with the bank heist to get Holly back. Gabriel and his men storm a Worldbanc branch, and secure its employees and customers as hostages and fitting each with ball-bearing-based explosives similar to Claymore mines. When police and FBI surround the branch, Gabriel takes Stanley to the coffee shop across the street to meet with Roberts, but Gabriel spends the time to discuss the film Dog Day Afternoon and the nature of misdirection. Once back in the bank, Gabriel has one of his men escort a hostage to demonstrate the situation. A sniper kills the man, and other agents pull the hostage away from the bank, causing the bomb to detonate, ravaging the buildings and vehicles on the street and killing several people, a scene shown in medias res at the start of the film.
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Gabriel instructs Stanley to launch the hydra, and turns Holly over to him once completed. However, Stanley’s back door triggers before they can leave the bank, and Stanley is recaptured while Holly is rescued. Gabriel threatens to kill Ginger, who he knows is a DEA agent, unless Stanley re-siphons the money back to a Monte Carlo bank. Despite doing so, Gabriel shoots Ginger. Gabriel and his men load the hostages on a bus and demand a plane wait for them at the local airport, but while en route, the bus is lifted off by a S-64 Aircrane and deposited on a roof of a local skyscraper. Gabriel deactivates the bombs and departs with his surviving men on a waiting helicopter, which Stanley shoots down using a rocket-propelled grenade from the bus.
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Roberts takes Stanley to verify the corpse they found, believing Gabriel was a Mossad agent while there was no record of a DEA agent named Ginger. Stanley recognizes the corpse as the one he discovered earlier and personally realizes that the whole scenario was misdirection. Gabriel had escaped a different route, and Ginger had been wearing a bulletproof vest and was working with Gabriel. Roberts arranges for Stanley to have full custody of Holly, and the two tour the US together. In Monte Carlo Gabriel and Ginger withdraw the money, and later watch as a yacht at sea explodes. Over the film’s credits, a news report describes the destruction of the yacht, carrying a known terrorist, as the third such incident in as many weeks.Image result for SWORDFISH FILMFull of Slick Dialogue, cool Direction and the simply gorgeous Halle Berry, this turns out to be a very enjoyable Thriller, with some clever twists (some of which don’t quite work) but are forgivable anyway. Not a classic, but a good film none the less.

 

REVIEW: THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123

 

CAST

Denzel Washington (Training Day
John Travolta (The Punisher)
James Gandolfini (Killing Them Softly)
Victor Gojcaj (Unstoppable)
John Turtrro (Transformers)
Luis Guzman (Traffic)
Ramón Rodríguez (Pride and Glory)
Michael Rispoli (Pain & Gain)
Aunjanue Ellis (Ray)

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A man calling himself Ryder hijacks Pelham 123, a New York City Subway 6 train that departed from Pelham Bay Park station at 1:23 p.m. Ryder is accompanied by three other heavily armed men: Bashkim, Emri and former train operator Phil Ramos. They uncouple the front car from the rest of the train and take the passengers hostage. MTA employee Walter Garber is working the Rail Control Center as a train dispatcher and receives a ransom call from Ryder, who demands $10 million in cash be paid within 60 minutes. Ryder warns that every minute past the deadline they force him to wait, he will execute a hostage.

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Bashkim kills a plainclothes Transit Police officer who approaches him after recognizing that something is amiss. He and Ramos then allow all the passengers not in the front car to be released except for the motorman. Garber reluctantly negotiates with Ryder and develops a rapport, while Ramos and Emri set up Internet access in the tunnel. Ryder uses his laptop to watch the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge nearly 1,000 points during the next hour in response to the hostage-taking. One of the passenger’s laptops also connects to the Internet, and the computer’s webcam is activated. The webcam allows the people in the control center to observe Ryder and Ramos. Lieutenant Camonetti of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit enters the RCC to take over negotiations and Garber is ordered to leave the premises. The change infuriates Ryder, who shoots and kills the train’s motorman in order to force Camonetti to bring Garber back. Garber blames Camonetti for the motorman’s death.

Camonetti learns that Garber is being investigated for allegedly accepting a $35,000 bribe over a contract for new subway cars. Ryder also discovers the allegations through online news reports after Ramos told Ryder that Garber was a “big-shot” at the MTA and should not be dispatching trains and forces Garber to confess by threatening to kill a passenger. Garber explains that he was offered the bribe while deciding between two companies for a train contract, but also tells Ryder that he used the money to pay for his child’s college tuition and insists that he would have made the same decision without the financial offer. Ryder expresses his admiration for Garber’s willingness to risk himself to save a stranger. Meanwhile, the Mayor agrees to deliver the ransom money to Ryder and orders the NYPD to deliver it. On the way to the delivery point, the police are involved in an accident and fail to get the money there in time. Garber attempts to bluff Ryder by telling him the money has been dropped off, unaware that Ryder has been monitoring events on his laptop and knows he’s being lied to. An enraged Ryder threatens to execute one of the children hostages and the child’s mother. Another hostage, a former soldier, sacrifices himself to save the mother and child and is killed. A short gunfight erupts after an NYPD sniper is bitten by a rat and accidentally discharges his weapon, killing Ramos.

Based on clues that Garber receives during his conversations with Ryder, the NYPD discover that Ryder’s real name is Dennis Ford. He was a manager at a private equity firm before being sentenced to prison for investment fraud. Ford had agreed to a plea bargain for a three-year sentence, but was instead sentenced to ten years by the judge. One of the Mayor’s aides mentions the extreme drop in the major stock indexes in response to the train hijacking, and the Mayor deduces that Ryder is actually attempting to manipulate the market via put options. Ryder demands that Garber himself deliver the ransom money, and Garber is given a pistol and flown to the terminal to make the drop. Ryder brings Garber aboard and orders him to operate the train to the next station, where he and the hijackers exit the train during a brief stop. Ryder then uses a device to rig the train to go on without them. Garber manages to separate himself from Ryder at a railway crossing and then follows him as he escapes to the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Ryder parts from Bashkim and Emri, who are later shot dead after being surrounded by police.

The train comes to a halt safely, and police learn that Ryder is no longer on board. Ryder hails a taxi while Garber follows him in a truck. Ryder checks his laptop and finds that his scheme has amassed a $307 million profit. He leaves the cab on the Manhattan Bridge and takes the bridge’s pedestrian walkway but Garber catches up to him. Garber holds Ryder at gunpoint, and Ryder gives him a 10-second ultimatum to pull the trigger. In the final seconds of the countdown, Ryder pulls out his gun and forces Garber to shoot him. As he lies dying, Ryder tells Garber that he considers him a hero. Garber should be glad that he avenged the motorman’s death by killing Ryder. Afterward, the mayor thanks Garber for saving the hostages and reassures him about his bribery charges. The film concludes with Garber walking into his home carrying a bag of groceries, including a half-gallon of milk he promised his wife, Theresa, he’d bring home earlier in the film.

Pelham works pretty well as a thriller because the Tony Scott-Denzel Washington teaming always seems to do so and adding Travolta, always fun as a villain, is another nice touch. it doesn’t always leave you engaged in what’s happening, whether because the plot or the action lacks humanity. Still it’s held together by good acting and solid direction and for that alone it’s worth a ride.

 

31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: CARRIE (1976)

CAST

Sissy Spacek (The Help)
Piper Laurie (The Faculty)
Amy Irving (Alias)
William Katt (Sparks)
John Travolta (The Punisher)
Nancy Allen (Robocop)
Betty Buckley (Eight Is Enough)
P.J. Soles (Halloween)
Priscilla Pointer (Blue Velvet)
Sydney Lassick (Alligator)

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), a shy and friendless 17-year-old girl, is the scapegoat and outcast of her school. At home, she is abused by her mentally unstable mother Margaret (Piper Laurie), who is a Christian fundamentalist. While in the showers after gym class, Carrie unexpectedly experiences her first period and fears she is bleeding to death. The other girls, including Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) and Sue Snell (Amy Irving), add to her shame and humiliation by pelting her with tampons and sanitary pads. The gym teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) intervenes and as Carrie becomes more frantic, a light bulb bursts in the showers.
Further examples of Carrie’s telekinetic power are shown: when the school principal repeatedly calls her “Cassie” instead of “Carrie”, an ashtray on his desk spontaneously flips onto the floor; as Carrie walks home a boy on a bicycle taunts her, but falls off his bike when Carrie glares at him; and when Margaret tells Carrie that the “curse of blood” is divine punishment for sin and forces her to pray for forgiveness, Carrie stares at her bedroom mirror until it shatters.  Miss Collins punishes Carrie’s P.E. class with a week-long detention, threatening the students with suspension from school and the prom if they do not attend. Chris becomes defiant and is slapped by Miss Collins; Chris storms out angrily swearing vengeance.Ashamed of her participation in Carrie’s taunting, Sue persuades her boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt) to invite Carrie to the prom, but Carrie declines, fearing a trick. Tommy later visits Carrie’s house and repeats his invitation, which she eventually accepts. Carrie tells her mother she is going to the prom, but Margaret declares the prom to be a sinful occasion. Carrie demonstrates her power by causing all the windows to slam shut, leading Margaret to believe she is a witch. Chris tells her delinquent boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta) that she wants revenge on Carrie. He sneaks into the school and places a bucket full of pig’s blood above the school’s stage. At the prom, Chris’ friend Norma (P.J. Soles) rigs the voting so that Carrie and Tommy are named prom king and queen. When the crown is placed on Carrie’s head, Chris drenches Carrie in the pig’s blood. Chris and Billy leave the gym laughing, as Carrie hallucinates that everyone (including Miss Collins) is laughing at her.Immediately concerned, Tommy tries to help Carrie, but he is knocked unconscious by the bucket falling from the beam overhead before he can do anything. Carrie telekinetically seals the exits and attacks the students with a fire hose, killing Norma. She kills Miss Collins by pinning her to the wall with gym equipment as the horrified and helpless Chris and Billy watch from a window. She electrocutes other staff before igniting a massive fire, killing all the remaining students and staff. Carrie calmly leaves the inferno and begins walking home, still covered in blood. Chris and Billy attempt to run her down, but Carrie telekinetically flips the car over and causes it to explode, killing them both. Upon returning home and taking a bath to wash off the pig’s blood, Carrie prepares for bed, but encounters Margaret and breaks down in her arms. They recite the Lord’s Prayer together, but halfway through, Margaret stabs Carrie in the back with a butcher’s knife. Carrie falls down the stairs and is cornered in the kitchen by a crazed Margaret, who attempts to stab her again. Carrie sends all the kitchen knives and sharp objects hurtling into her mother, crucifying her in the doorway. The house starts to shake and then collapses around them as Carrie embraces her mother’s body.Some time later, Sue, the sole survivor of the prom massacre, has a dream in which she visits the lot where Carrie’s house once stood. As she places flowers on the ground, Carrie’s bloody hand shoots out of the ground and grabs her elbow. Sue jolts awake in her own bed with her mother desperately trying to calm her.Perhaps for younger generations this may be a bit lame as the thing these days seems to be loads of blood and gore from start to finish, with no proper strong story. Carrie is still a great little chiller and Sissy Spacek in the title role really makes it her own and brings the character to life in a thoughtful way.

 

REVIEW: PULP FICTION

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CAST
John Travolta (The Punisher)
Uma Thurman (Kill Bill)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Tim Roth (Lie To Me)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Amanda Plummer (Drunks)
Bruce Willis (Die Hard)
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible)
Rosanna Arquette (The Whole Nine Yards)
Eric Stoltz (Caprica)
Steve Buscemi (Ghost World)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Kathy Griffin (Shrek Forever After)
Alexis Arquette (Bride of Chucky)
Harvey Keitel (Red Dragon)

Outrageously violent, time-twisting, and in love with language, you don’t need me to tell you that Pulp Fiction was widely considered the most influential American movie of the 1990s. Director Quentin Tarantino merged amazingly complex yet casual dialogue with the serious violence of American gangster movies and films noirs mixed up with the wacky violence of cartoons and video games.

The fragmented story-telling structure keeps you watching to see how it all fits together. The script intertwines three stories, featuring Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, as hit men who have philosophical interchanges on such topics as the French names for American fast food products; Bruce Willis as a boxer; and Uma Thurman, whose dance sequence with Travolta proved an instant classic.

The moments of shocking violence are simultaneously humorous and ghastly. The surreal yet realistic atmosphere, long takes, and wittily literate non-stop dialogue engage me in the characters’ experience. I’m sure I could dissect this film to no end, commenting on the pop culture references and influences, I could comment on how I enjoyed Samuel L Jackson’s furiously philosophical character and the mysterious item that was in that brief case, but I won’t. I won’t because I don’t need to, it won’t change the fact that this film is an absolute classic, everybody knows it and it will always be remembered when people think of 90’s cinema, plus It’s so nice to watch a film that is a critical sensation and a box-office hit, as you feel clever and entertained

REVIEW: BASIC

CAST

John Tarvolta (The Punisher)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Connie Nielsen (Gladiator)
Tim Daly (Superman: TAS)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Brian Van Holt (S.W.A.T.)
Taye Diggs (Chicago)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)

In Panama, a team of Army Ranger trainees and their instructor, Master Sergeant Nathan West (Samuel L. Jackson), engage in a training exercise: navigate the jungle in hurricane conditions using live fire to hit targets before rendezvousing at a bunker. Later, a rescue chopper sees Sergeant Ray Dunbar emerge from the jungle, carrying wounded Second Lieutenant Levi Kendall. The two men are pursued by a third soldier, Sergeant Mueller, who is shooting at them. Dunbar kills Mueller in self-defense. Although no other bodies are found, the rest of West’s team are presumed dead.
Dunbar refuses to talk to Captain Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen). Instead he insists on speaking to a fellow Ranger from outside the base and draws an “8” inside a circle on a piece of paper. Spooked on seeing the “8”, base commander Colonel Bill Styles (Timothy Daly), calls in an experienced interrogator and friend, DEA agent Tom Hardy (John Travolta) who is also an ex-Ranger. Even though he is now under investigation for suspicion of bribery, Styles assigns him to Osborne. The pair have only 6 hours before the CID transport from Washington arrives to take Dunbar and Kendall away.
Dunbar’s story
Hardy begins by revealing to Dunbar during the initial interrogation that he served under West as a Ranger. He also mentions that he knows West is infamous for being a ruthless, tough-as-nails sergeant.
Dunbar relates that another trainee who went on the Panama training mission with Dunbar, Kendall, Mueller and two others, Nuñez and Castro, was named Pike. Pike had earned West’s wrath, because West thought he was not following orders. Hardy and Osborne suggest that with plenty of reason to hate West, Pike had motive to murder him. Dunbar refuses to say more. Before Hardy and Osborne leave, Hardy asks for cigarettes because he had “forgotten” them in his car.
 
Kendall’s story
Hardy and Osborne then go to see Kendall, son of a Joint Chiefs of Staff general, recovering from gunshot wounds. At the hospital, Hardy runs into Dr. Peter Vilmer (Harry Connick Jr.), an old friend and Osborne’s former love interest. Kendall, after recognizing Hardy as “the DEA agent with friends in low places”, reveals he is a homosexual and claims West hated him because of it, and that West silently threatened his life shortly before the mission began, partnering him with Castro for the mission, and feared West may have ordered Castro to give him a “training accident”.
 
Kendall claims West died when hit in the back with a white phosphorus grenade and that Pike confessed to the crime, thinking his comrades would be “on board” with him in support. However, the team decided to turn Pike in. In the night, Pike tried to gain Kendall’s sympathies, playing on their mutual hatred of West. Pike proposed killing Mueller and Nunez and convincing Dunbar and Castro to back them up. Kendall dismissed Pike’s suggestion, but later spots Pike whispering to Dunbar. Kendall says Dunbar went back to his bag, extracted his pistol and aimed it at the sleeping Mueller. A firefight ensued, and Mueller shot Castro, who fired and hit Nunez, Kendall and Pike. Nunez and Pike die and Kendall is wounded. Dunbar then carried Kendall, exchanging fire with Mueller to the pickup point, as seen at the start of the film. Asked why Dunbar would rescue him, Kendall suggests maybe Dunbar expected him to cover for him in gratitude.
Dunbar’s second story
Dunbar, now accused of murder, says Kendall is lying and claims he didn’t shoot West. Hardy notes Kendall claimed West died from a grenade, not shooting. Dunbar claims Mueller and Castro were selling prescription drug kits called “combat cocktails” to help dull physical pain and sharpen the mind; that Mueller shot West, who became aware of their drug dealing, and claims Mueller then used Pike’s grenade, stolen from his pack earlier. At the bunker, Mueller tried to pin the blame on Pike, but Pike pointed out evidence throwing suspicion on Mueller. A fierce argument ensued and Mueller executed Pike. A firefight broke out and Castro and Nunez die. Dunbar rescued Kendall and during the pursuit killed Mueller before the helicopter pickup. Dunbar provides proof of the drug-dealing operation, and states Vilmer supplied the drugs to Mueller and Kendall.
 
Kendall’s second story
Osborne and Hardy return to the hospital and speak with Dr. Vilmer, who admits that he distributed drugs to Mueller and Kendall and that he falsified drug tests so the soldiers would come up clean. Vilmer is placed under arrest. After his case discussion with them, Styles orders Osborne and Hardy to not talk to Kendall again.
 
But Hardy and Osborne confront Kendall, who is acting very strangely and refuses to give them any useful information, such as why he pinned the three murders on Dunbar. However, Kendall, still claiming that Dunbar was the guilty party, forces them to ask Dunbar about “all the murders he’s covered up for his drug dealer”. They soon discovered that they planned the murder on West, and after a brief chat between Hardy and Osborne, with Kendall still making fun of the two, they are threatening to charge him with the crime as an accessory, which he does not want any part of it, and Kendall continues to laugh at them, thinking that they got nothing on him. Suddenly, while Osborne tells Kendall that they find one of the dead bodies, Hardy noticed him beginning to bleed out of his ears, and calls for a nurse. While Osborne is trying to hold Kendall, he suddenly starts vomiting blood, and abruptly dies. Before he dies, he uses his blood soaked finger to draw on Osborne’s palm what she thinks is the sign of infinity. Shortly after, she realizes it is an 8. She shows this to Hardy, who indicates ignorance of its significance. She suspects he knows. After a brief physical fight, he takes her aside and explains the conversation he had earlier with Styles. There is rumored to be a group of ex-Rangers in Panama, trained under West, who turned rogue and became drug-dealers. They call themselves Section 8.
 
Styles is furious that Osborne and Hardy talked to Kendall a second time after he explicitly ordered them not to. He relieves Osborne of duty and asks Hardy to leave. He informs them that Dunbar and Vilmer will be taken away shortly on the transport plane that has arrived from the U.S. and he considers the investigation closed.
 
At the stockade, Vilmer casually observes to Hardy and Osborne that he will be on the same plane with Pike. Hardy corrects him, saying that he’ll be on the same plane as Dunbar, but Vilmer says that’s not right. He reveals that Ray Dunbar is black. The white “Dunbar” Hardy and Osborne have been questioning is in fact Pike, the man whom West antagonized during training (according to his own story). Pike had switched his tags with Dunbar’s, in order to throw off the local authorities and disappear, after being transported for trial. Hardy and Osborne rush back to the base just as Pike is being taken onto a transport plane. Hardy grabs Pike, but not before he grabs a gun from one of the guards, and holds his face dangerously close to the plane’s whirling propeller. The two engage in a brief screaming match, although what they say is inaudible. Pike then drops to his knees, out of breath. Afterward, Hardy and Osborne lead Pike away to interrogate him again now that they know the truth.
 
Pike’s final explanation
In Pike’s new story, West was not shot, and he claims West knew about the main operation going on at the base: cocaine smuggling. He claims West confronted the Rangers in the bunker and told them that he would turn them in to authorities in the morning and tell Styles everything. A brief Mexican standoff ensued and West escaped the bunker. Nuñez chased after him and was shot by West. Shortly after, Castro and Mueller went looking for West, Pike found Dunbar dead, West shot Kendall, wounding him, and tried to convince Pike to give himself up. Pike says Mueller managed to kill West, that he then shot at Mueller, and knowing that he would be blamed if West died, took Dunbar’s dog tags. It is still established that he managed to escape, carried Kendall through the jungle, killed Mueller and was picked up by the helicopter.As proof, he gives Hardy, Osborne and Styles the number of a crate where Vilmer had stowed cocaine, and they open it.
 
Hardy then talks to Styles alone. He asks why West wouldn’t tell Styles about the drugs as soon as he suspected something. He then accuses Styles of lying, and believes West did in fact go to him, but that Styles was behind the drug dealing operation the whole time; that rather than side with West, Styles ordered Mueller and Kendall to kill him in the jungle and then poisoned Kendall afterward to keep him quiet. Osborne, meanwhile, approaching the office, overhears, and secretly listens. Styles laughs off the accusations, but as Hardy starts to leave by turning him to the authorities, Styles offers him a percentage of the operation, once he’s back in business, in order to keep his mouth shut. Hardy, realizing that Styles has been involved in this whole operation all along, says he’ll have to think about it and turns to leave. Styles draws his weapon to force Hardy to accept his offer, but is killed by Osborne.
 
Final twist and explanation
After the Military Police wrap up the investigation into Styles’ shooting, Osborne is about to leave the base for the night and Hardy tells her that everything’s fine and all they have to do, concerning the shooting, is “Tell the story right.” Osborne recalls hearing that phrase during both Kendall and Pike’s stories, describing how members of the conspiracy planned to cover up West’s death.
 
Osborne suspects Hardy may be involved, especially since he hated West and because Section 8 contains West’s former trainees. She tails him out of the base, and sees Pike run out from some roadside bushes and get into Hardy’s jeep. She follows them by car, and then by foot through the streets of Panama City crowded with costumed revelers and watches as the two of them enter a doorway with a big eight ball hanging above it, revealing it as their headquarters. Osborne sneaks through a long hallway, down a flight of stairs, and up behind Hardy and Pike, with her weapon drawn, believing that they are behind both Section 8 and West’s murder. Then West, very much alive, walks up behind her. Castro, Dunbar and Nuñez are also there, fixing breakfast. Hardy reveals them as his colleagues.
 
They reveal to Osborne that Section 8 is actually a black-ops anti-drug unit led by Tom Hardy (who is addressed as “Colonel”). The “Section-8” insane-mercenary story is a cover to spook the cartels. “Dunbar”, “Castro”, “Nuñez” and “Pike” (not their names) infiltrated the base to investigate the cocaine trafficking that was going on, and discovered Mueller, Kendall and Vilmer were responsible. West, not realizing Styles was also involved, informed him of the findings. Styles responded by ordering Mueller and Kendall to kill West. The training mission ordered by West was in fact a covert Section-8 set-up to get rid of Mueller and Kendall, faking West’s death (in order to transfer him to Section 8) and Hardy had been called to the base by the coded message from “Dunbar” to confirm Styles’ and Vilmer’s involvement. West and Hardy then offer Osborne a job.
Basic is an interesting military mystery thriller, strong, convincing performances by the leads helps sell it, combined with a twisting story. That arguably is a little bit confusing at times, while your interpretation of the film come the finale, will hinge on the ending itself.