Cinema-Scene.com > Volume 6 > Number 11

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Director:
David Mamet

Starring:
Val Kilmer
Derek Luke
William H. Macy
Ed O'Neill
Kristen Bell
Tia Texada

Release: 12 Mar. 04
IMDb

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Spartan

BY: DAVID PERRY

David Mamet has long proven he is unmatched at writing self-consciously witty dialogue for characters that deserve such intelligence. Never is this more apparent than when heís working on genre films that would otherwise feel painfully forced and predictable. Spartan, a thriller about abductions and political evils isnít anything new, but it certainly presents itself well. Itís like an ugly debutante getting the best coming out party of all the country club families.

Is it convincing that Special Ops Commander Robert Scott (Kilmer) is able to search down the whereabouts and the conspiracy behind the disappearance of the presidentís daughter? Not particularly, but the ride that Mamet takes the audience on is so thrilling and intelligently written that such oversimplification is acceptable.

Spartan is a companion piece to Mametís Heist a couple years ago. Both films are about men at the top of their respective games, who know that survival in their field is dependent on figuring out everything in a beat before the other guys. Itís not terribly unlike Mamet himself, who hasnít slowed down as a writer since bursting onto the scene in the 1980s. Creating myriad worlds of two-timing con men and deceptive femme fatales, Hollywood execs and Chicago lawmen, Mamet has succeeded in writing for audience that is smart and knows the clichťs he walks them into. But the charm of his movies is that he always remains a beat ahead
.

©2004, David Perry, Cinema-Scene.com, 12 March 2004