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Basic (2003) Poster

(2003)

Trivia

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It's raining almost the entire movie.
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Director John McTiernan didn't make another movie after Basic for more than thirteen years. This was due to legal troubles related to illegally wiretapping a business associate and an ex-wife, which eventually led to 12 months of incarceration and the forced liquidation of his assets.
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Screenwriter James Vanderbilt wanted to fool a certain type of moviegoer. He said: " . . . those who say 'I know who the killer is' in the first ten minutes."
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Director John McTiernan really enjoyed working with John Travolta and Connie Nielsen on the fight scene. McTiernan said of this: "Take two cats, get a nice, dark closet, throw them in, and slam the door closed."
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Every time the story of the bunker is retold, each person has a different partner.
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In order to give Roselyn Sanchez the proper posture, Director John McTiernan had her wear a fifty-pound bag of sand on the front of her belt, while at the same time, told her to imagine herself as a Las Vegas showgirl.
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The film was influenced by Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950).
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For Director John McTiernan, the movie satisfied all the definitions of a true thriller. He said: "Something potentially horrific happened to a group of people who have completely vanished, and you follow a couple of people who are trying to figure it out, and it just keeps getting more and more dangerous, until, eventually, the whole thing turns upside down, and nothing that you thought was going on, was actually true."
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Samuel L. Jackson improvised a lot of his lines, of which, most of them weren't allowable for a PG-13 rating.
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As of September 2018, this is John McTiernan's most recent film.
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It can rain for five to six days straight in the tropics. John McTiernan used rain to give the feeling of being in a "strange, enchanted place."
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James Vanderbilt said of this film's screenplay: "I always loved mysteries when I was a kid. I knew that someday I wanted to write one that had many twists, and had the audience guessing up until the last minute."
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Method actor Giovanni Ribisi didn't take a bath for a week, to get into his role as Second Lieutenant Levi Kendall. This act was noted by various other cast and crew on the set.
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The events of this movie take place on November 1 and 2, 1999, as evidenced by the opening title cards and the fact that the base is mentioned to be closing. Fort Clayton, where the movie took place closed on December 31, 1999.
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John Travolta visited the 1st Ranger Battalion in Savannah, Georgia, and observed live fire exercises, while preparing for his role.
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The name of the large cyclonic storm, that is featured throughout the movie, was "Hurricane Beth".
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Producer Mike Medavoy's choice of director was John McTiernan, which was based on McTiernan's adept use of the camera as a narrative presence in his films. It was particularly apt for this story in which incidents are told and retold from differing points of view. McTiernan said: "In this kind of story, the camera has to be active and comment on what's going on. The approach and the angles change, depending on whose version of the story we're watching. A soldier, who is a dumb innocent in his version, becomes the mastermind in another character's retelling of the story. So the narrative style, has to subtly shift every time. It's like you're moving deeper and deeper into the jungle, if you will. It all has to accelerate, intensify, and play at a higher voltage as you go forward."
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James Vanderbilt made good on the promise of a story with lots of twists and turns, said Producer Mike Medavoy, Chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures. He said: "When I read the script for Basic (2003), I was captivated. It is packed with dark, Hitchcockian twists and turns. The story is told by several characters whose versions conflict with one another, which keeps the audience guessing as to what happened that day in the jungle, and why. It all leads up to a surprise ending that you never see coming."
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John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson appeared in Pulp Fiction (1994).
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John McTiernan asked John Travolta and Connie Nielsen to tone down the sexual tension between their characters.
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John Travolta's sister Margaret played a nurse.
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About ninety percent of this movie was filmed in the dark.
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James Vanderbilt had Taye Diggs in mind for Pike early on in the writing process.
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The lead character of Tom Hardy (John Travolta), was named after The Hardy Boys.
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When John McTiernan was approached to direct, John Travolta had already been signed to portray the pivotal character of Tom Hardy, an ex-Ranger and D.E.A. Agent, who has been suspended amidst allegations of taking bribes.
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Giovanni Ribisi is a method actor, and stayed in character, and in bed, between every shot there.
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Second collaboration of Samuel L. Jackson and Director John McTiernan since Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995).
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The first scene after the credits, and the film's closing shot, were both filmed in Panama during a rainstorm. Most of the movie, though, was filmed in Florida.
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According to John McTiernan, Samuel L. Jackson's look was inspired by Sergio Leone.
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John Travolta starred in another military suspense-thriller, The General's Daughter (1999).
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Debut producing credit of Bradley J. Fischer, who was a co-Executive Producer on this movie.
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The film is book-ended with the music of Maurice Ravel's "Bolero". The choice is not random. The piece, which is just under 16 minutes, begins sedately and slowly builds over time, adding more instruments as it goes. In this way it parallels the story of Basic, which also builds over time. As with the film, it continues to build in a certain direction, reaches an apex, and then suddenly it all falls apart, providing a surprise ending.
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John McTiernan wanted to give the audience the sense of moving "deeper and deeper into the jungle".
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The name of the U.S. Army base, situated near the Panama Canal, was Fort Clayton.
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Co-Executive Producer Bradley J. Fischer and Vice-President of Production for Phoenix Pictures, brought James Vanderbilt's screenplay to Mike Medavoy, who said: "What really sets this story apart, is the way it builds on the twists and turns, of successful military movies. You think you're getting a typical military thriller, like The General's Daughter (1999) or A Few Good Men (1992), and then it totally derails you, turns you on your ear. It's incredibly satisfying when, as an audience member, you're outsmarted, only to realize that the truth was in front of your eyes throughout the entire journey."
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John Travolta teased Connie Nielsen a lot behind the scenes.
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John Travolta improvised picking up the magazine, to add humor to one scene.
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The time that this movie takes place is December 31, 1999, which was perceived to be the New Year's Eve prior to the New Millenium. The New Millennium actually started on January 1, 2001.
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The movie's opening title card reads: "Canal Zone: Panama".
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Intelligence, military agencies, and organizations referenced in this movie include the D.E.A., the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the C.I.D., the U.S. Military, the Special Forces, and the U.S. Military Police.
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Brian Van Holt and Samuel L. Jackson appeared in S.W.A.T. (2003).
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Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta appeared in Marvel-based movies. Jackson played Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Travolta played Howard Saint in The Punisher (2004).
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When Hardy pulls Pike off the transport the only propeller working on the plane is the one he throws the gun at and uses to threaten him.
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John Travolta's character has the same name as actor Tom Hardy. Less known when Basic (2003) first debuted, that year, Tom Hardy appeared in Dot the I (2003) and LD 50 Lethal Dose (2003). He had previously appeared in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).
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Basic (2003), and The Tailor of Panama (2001) are movies of intrigue, and both predominantly set in Panama, and include scenes in the region of the Panama Canal. Basic (2003) did a small amount of filming in Panama, whereas The Tailor of Panama (2001) did a much larger amount of filming there. At least five crew, and technician personnel, worked on both pictures.
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The main production company, producing this film, was Phoenix Pictures. Giovanni Ribisi, who plays Second Lieutenant Levi Kendall in this movie, later appeared in Flight of the Phoenix (2004). At least three crew members - First Assistant Director Julian Wall, Art Department Coordinator Bruce Bisbey, and Second Assistant Director Douglas Plasse - worked on both movies.
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Captain Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen)'s telephone number is 334-5644, but no area code is given.
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When John Travolta's character first comes onto the Army Base, he says in reference to his friend's not becoming a General "F--- 'em if they can't take a joke." Which is the same line he uses in Broken Arrow.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

James Vanderbilt's goal was to make Captain Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen) the hero, not a naïve "hot girl."
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In the original script, Tom Hardy (John Travolta) was the main villain, and killed Master Sergeant Nathan West (Samuel L. Jackson).
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The title is taken from a line of dialogue, which states "murder is basic".
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Taye Diggs and Brian Van Holt played dual roles, with both actors portraying the characters of Jay Pike and Sergeant Ray Dunbar.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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