movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by davidshi who says... "My friends and I actually started recording the characters on sheets of paper as we tried to match up the stories of the survivors to what actually happened to no avail
Thus, I conclude this movie is part BS with intentional confusion of the audience. Kinda like Matrix 2's ending
ROGER EBERT says "... this was not a film that could be understood."
Samuel L. Jackson is Sergeant West. He is notoriously ruthless to his troops and his reputation is legendary throughout Fort Jackson in Panama. The movie starts in heavy rainstorm with Jackson's troops in a helicopter over the dense forest.
There are six of them. This storm has caused the base to shutdown and everyone is back at the base except Jackson's troops because thats just how he is. Jackson splits everyone up into pairs and they are dropped off the forest. The movie makes it unclear what happens next as all we see is a soldier carrying a wounded comrade while running from another soldier as they are exchanging fire at each other. When morning comes and the army is unable to locate Jackson's troops they get worried and send out rescue squadrons. Only 2 soldiers are found alive and the rest are missing.
They bring "Soldier 1" (Brian Van Holt) to Fort Jackson while the other is sent to the hospital. Soldier 1 is completely silence and his expression is unwavering. The army director sends Connie Nielson, an interrogator, to find out what happened during the botched exercise. Soldier 1 says he will only speak to a former soldier of Jackson's and hands Nielson a note that has the number 8 written on it. Puzzled, Nielson shows the director and asks what this is about. The director seems to know what is going on but won't tell Nielson. The director calls John Travolta. We find that he is currently working for the DEA as an interrogator and its not the first time he has gotten reprimanded for being a little violent with the people he is interrogating. Travolta arrives at the base and teams up with Nielson.
As Travolta is entering, the director tells him about Section 8. Apparently the director doesn't know much about it and has only heard rumors about it. The director thinks its some secret government group disguised as soldier and completing some type of top-secret mission. Travolta just grins and walks away. Soldier 1 starts talking.
This is where the movie starts getting extremely unclear.
The interrogation proceeds very slowly and not much information is made clear as to what happened. Travolta/Nielson they proceed to the hospital where "Soldier 2" (Giovanni Ribisi) is at. Apparently Travolta knows the doctor in charge there. Anyways, not much information is gathered from Soldier 2 either, so they go back to Soldier 1. Travolta starts trying a little harder and gets intense with Soldier 1. Then they go back to Soldier 2 again. Using the information obtained from Soldier 1, they can use that info to check the validity of Soldier 2's statements. This is what Travolta/Nielson have gathered from the interrogations:
Flashback to Panama forest during Jackson's training exercise:
Jackson was killed with a High Explosive Grenade. Since their exercises did not involve those grenades, it is obvious that Jackson was murdered. As they troops finished their mission and meet at some shed where they were suppose to finish, they all realize Jackson is dead. Each of the soldiers is searched for a missing grenade and Pike (Taye Diggs) is found to be lacking one. Immediately they suspect him and a motive is estabilished. Flashback: Throughout the life of that battalion, Pike was always picked on the most by Jackson and at many times forced to redo several intense exercises because he didn't do them correctly. Pike claims he is innocent but is chained up to a pole while the rest of the crew sleeps for the night. During the night, the Pike tries to convince one of his closer buddies it couldn't have been him and someone is framing him. Pike eventually is successful and gets uncuffed as someone else wakes up and sees what is happening. Arguments ensue and shots are fired. Couple soldiers die and then the roof collapses and creates a huge mess. We see one soldier carrying a wounded soldier as he is running away from the shed as another one is shooting at them. This matches up to what happened earlier in the movie.
It appears the case is closed. While speaking small talk with the doctor about Pike, Travolta mentions Soldier 2's name. The doctor says that is impossible because that name is the name of a black soldier. Travolta realizes that name tags got switched so all those stories about Pike's motive for killing Jackson and his hatred for him are actually corresponding to Soldier 1. The Flashback is replayed and instead of Jackson yelling at Pike, we see him yelling at Soldier 1. Thus, Soldier 1 was suspected of killing Jackson all this time. Travolta realizes something is fishy and suspects that Soldier 1 and 2 have pre-meditated statements to Travolta and is playing him for a fool.
A re-interrogation of Soldier 2 ensues and he divulges that there is a drug smuggling operation going on throughout the army base and the doctor that Travolta knew, Soldier 1, and Soldier 2 were in on it. Then, Soldier 2 vomits and mysterious black substance and dies. Right before he dies, he uses his vomit stained fingers to write an "8" on Nielson's hand. The doctor gets busted, Soldier 1 gets busted, and Travolta suspects the director has something to do with this because the smuggling ring would have never been able to work without the director somehow turning the other cheek. He has a talk with the director and as Travolta is walking away the director pulls out a gun. Nielson shoots the director. Soldier 1 tells Travolta where the drugs are. Apparently that training mission allowed Soldier 1/2 to be in the forest to carry a drug shipment into Panama. Jackson found out they and they had to kill him. Case seems to be closed.
Nielson drops off Travolta at a street corner. Travolta starts walking away and into another car. He doesn't realize Nielson is following her. Travolta drives a dark SUV onto a road by the river and sees 4 dark figures in hoods walk into the SUV. She follows it further until they get to an urban street market. Travolta and the 4 figures walk out and into a hotel type building with a large number "8" neon sign. Nielson follows them up to a room and busts in with her gun. There we see Jackson, Travolta, and the 4 missing army soldiers sitting there smiling and eating. It turns out they are Section 8 and are some type of topsecret drug busting governmental ring. They want to recruit Nielson. End of movie.
How Soldier 1/2 knew about section 8 is beyond me. How this even ties into the plot in anyway I don't know. How the 4 survived after clearly being dead in the story I have no clue
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