Plot: What’s it about?
The military is supposed to be a stable, upright force that protects our borders from all enemies, foreign and domestic. But at the Camp Tillman Army Base on the United States/Mexico border, there seems to be something sinister happening. After an Army operations officer is murdered on the camp’s premises, the Pentagon decides to send in an agent to investigate. That agent is Major John Murphy (Mark Dacascos), who is considered to be the best intelligence officer the Army has. If anyone can figure out what happened, Murphy can. Undercover in the base, Murphy unlocks a Pandora’s Box of corruption, involving everyone at the base, including the base’s leader, Sgt. Mike Gammon (Tim Abel). While the soldiers at the base are supposed to be fighting the drug traffickers near the border, they are actually trying to eradicate their business, only to take it over themselves. That’s right, the soldiers at Camp Tillman are wanting to get a collar on the drug trade, and make some cold hard cash in the process. As Murphy infiltrates the operation deeper and deeper, he starts to get lured into the crime himself. Can Murphy resist the temptation, or will he end up becoming one of the people he was sent to shut down?
The Base is a good action movie, not great, but good. Just looking at the movie, it seems like a made for television type picture, but it’s really not. It is a direct to video release, but you will surprised at just how good it is. I expected poor camera work and direction as well as substandard special effects, but the movie proved me wrong on all counts. The Base was directed by Mark Lester, who directed the action classic Commando, so he knows what action is supposed to be. While not as action packed as Commando, when the movie starts to open up, the action is fast and furious, and Lester’s framing captures it all perfectly. One thing I like about The Base is that we actually get some decent character development, which is a change from most action flicks. There is a fair amount of dialogue, and it well written and performed. It’s not deep intellectual discussion, but it’s a nice touch. Now, if you like action movies, you should give this movie a look. There aren’t any real stars in it, but it has appeal.
As I mentioned before, the cast is not star studded, in fact, not a household name can be found. The performances are decent for an action movie, surpassing my expectations. I am not saying they are excellent actors, but for an action movie, they more than stand their ground. The movie has a large ensemble cast of soldiers, none of which stand out any more than the others, so I won’t have much to say about the cast. The main focus is three characters, so those are the three I can discuss. Mark Dacascos (Sabotage, Double Dragon) plays our main character, and he is skilled enough to handle the minimal range needed. I think Dacascos would be excellent as a member of a team of soldiers in an action movie, as a part of a whole, rather than the lead he plays here. He gets the job done however, so I won’t be too harsh on him. Others gaining major screen time are Paula Trickey (A Kiss Goodnight) who is decent enough, and Tim Abel (Masseuse), who gives a nice turn as the corrupt base leader.
Video: How does it look?
The Base is presented on this disc in a full frame transfer. Now, I know many of you associate full frame with pan and scan, but that’s always true. As the movie was made for home video, I believe this is an open matte, which could be matted and shown theatrically in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. In other words, you don’t miss anything, and there is no annoying pan and scan. The overall image is excellent, with a slick appearance of course, as most made for video films have. The colors look bright, but retain a natural appearance, not getting too vibrant. Flesh tones are perfect, with no faults there at all. Black levels are a little on the bright side, but it’s not that bad and nothing to stomp your feet about. Aside from those few complaints, this transfer looks great.
Audio: How does it sound?
I am puzzled as to why a 5.1 track was not included on this disc. While the movie is not that dynamic in audio, I think the audio would have deepened quite a bit with an improved mix. The stereo surround track that is included gets the job done, but lacks the rich surround effects I think a 5.1 track would add. There is quite a bit of gun play, with each shot ringing out through the surrounds. Other than the bullets and a few other high impact effects, the audio stays in the front. Dialogue is clean and crisp, with excellent clarity at all times.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Even though this is a standard release from Sterling, the disc still has a few goodies packed on. Sterling has included the trailer for The Base, as well as some nice talent files, so we can learn more about the people who made the film. More companies should include the writer in their talent files, they are people too! Also on the disc is a running commentary by director Mark Lester, which is a decent listen, but not the best one I have heard. Lester is a decent speaker, and gives some details on the shooting of the film as well. I also want to mention, while not considered an extra, the menus on this disc are very well done.