William H. Macy
Release: 12 Mar. 04
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.