March 28, 2003
Fresh off the blistering failure of Rollerball, director John McTiernan follows up with a film that will feature John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in their first film together since their famous pairing in Pulp Fiction. Travolta will play a DEA agent who is asked to investigate the disappearance of a legendary Army Ranger drill instructor (Jackson) and his cadets during exercises at a Panama basic training camp, where things seem to have gone very badly.
The story is from a script from debut screenwriter James Vanderbilt, who also has Helldorado currently in production. The screenplay was actually the subject of a rather intense bidding war, and was originally intended for release in spring of 2001. At that time, Catherine Keener was in talks to star as the DEA agent and Benicio Del Toro was being discussed for the drill instructor role, with Lee Tamahori (Along Came a Spider) slated to direct. The casting is decidedly different, but the star power is certainly stronger (even though Travolta’s star has dimmed somewhat in recent years).
Once marketing begins, Columbia/Sony will almost certainly play up the Pulp Fiction angle, even though the two films have absolutely nothing to do with one another (and it seems doubtful that Travolta and Jackson will even share much screen time). At this point, there’s not much else to set this film apart from any number of similarly-themed tales; however, it does boast a fine group of supporting performers along with the enthralling screen presence of Jackson. Military suspense thrillers are a tough sell, but the casting and action sequences could go a long way toward making this a film that audiences will be excited to see. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Comparison films for Basic
|Black Hawk Down
|General's Daughter, The
|Rules of Engagement
|Enemy at the Gates