Critics score:
21 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Glenn Lovell, San Jose Mercury News:Both clumsily manipulative and implausible.Read more

Janice Page, Boston Globe:It's neither deep and interesting enough to be a brainteaser nor sufficiently thrilling to count as a mindless diversion.Read more

John Monaghan, Detroit Free Press:A military mystery that figures the more complex it gets, the more intrigued we'll be. It figures wrong.Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald:'Things are not what they seem, because we're kind of making this up as we go along, without any semblance of logic or reason, in order to make you feel stupid.'Read more

Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper:[Basic] had a great sense of itself and it had a lot of fun taking us from one corner to the next and then spinning us around until we got dizzy and didn't know where we were. I like that.Read more

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune:When you get to the last Basic twist, I doubt you'll feel the movie played very fair with you, or that the situation makes much sense.Read more

Elvis Mitchell, New York Times:Someone decided to put Rashomon in a Cuisinart along with A Few Good Men, The Usual Suspects and A Soldier's Story, and hit the pulverize button while forgetting to replace the top.Read more

Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution:The film is so clumsily -- and often confusingly -- told that you find yourself working awfully hard to stay with it.Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times:So unashamedly confusing, so intent on piling twist upon twist upon twist, it makes your head hurt just trying to figure out what's happened.Read more

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader:Director John McTiernan does a swell job with James Vanderbilt's sneaky script in keeping us guessing.Read more

Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle:Basic is too busy changing rules and strutting its cleverness.Read more

Vic Vogler, Denver Post:John Travolta is having fun -- a lot of it -- and that may be all the reason you need to wedge Basic into your post-Oscars film schedule.Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly:You can't handle the truth! -- or more to the point, it's not worth the effort.Read more

Rick Groen, Globe and Mail:This is one of those plot-heavy flicks that topples under its own engorged bulk, leaving logic to suffocate and common sense to go begging.Read more

Philip Wuntch, Dallas Morning News:A good con game movie follows its own rules and, at least in retrospect, makes sense. Basic changes scenarios every 20 minutes and finally trips over itself.Read more

Chuck Wilson, L.A. Weekly:Moviegoers aren't likely to be sold on the absurd plot twists doled out by screenwriter James Vanderbilt.Read more

Jan Stuart, Newsday:Artificial, manufactured and devoid of credibility.Read more

Jack Mathews, New York Daily News:You can fall asleep in the first reel, wake up at the end, and know as much as anyone else.Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews:The movie is so superficial that, once the mystery has been unraveled, all we do is shrug and walk out of the theater, slightly irritated at the waste of time and money.Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times:By the end, I wanted to do cruel and vicious things to the screenplay.Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, latest example of a thriller in which the beginning and the end make at least a tiny bit of sense, but the connecting stuff in between is just an inscrutable muddle of dumb twists, red herrings and ho-hum shockeroos.Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle:The plot twists, reversals, false accounts, unreliable narrators and conflicting testimonies that make up the story of Basic are just not worth revisiting, unless one wants to tie one's brain into a knot for no discernible reward.Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune:Read more

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star:Travolta is a vital presence that constantly holds our attention, even when the script is threatening to lose it.Read more

Time Out:Read more

Mike Clark, USA Today:The tepid result is like Courage Under Fire without the compelling Meg Ryan angle, or Travolta's 1999 The General's Daughter without the sexual squalor.Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety:The picture feels far more dedicated to the proposition that a mystery can never have enough twists than it does to plausibility or dramatic integrity. But the teasing tale is told with such dispatch it will carry willing audiences along.Read more

Ed Park, Village Voice:Nothing is as it appears, except the fact that nothing is as it appears.Read more

Desson Thomson, Washington Post:Entertainment more suitable for the living room than the movie theater.Read more

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post:The movie is just too busy to be suspenseful.Read more