More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 40.68%
Worth A Look45.76%
Average: 3.39%
Pretty Bad: 1.69%
Total Crap: 8.47%

5 reviews, 29 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Isle of Dogs by Rob Gonsalves

Room Laundering by Jay Seaver

Mega Time Squad by Jay Seaver

Profile by Jay Seaver

Scythian, The by Jay Seaver

Aragne: Sign of Vermillion by Jay Seaver

Cold Steel by Jack Sommersby

Microhabitat by Jay Seaver

Last Child by Jay Seaver

Nightmare Cinema by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"OMG, it's so much creepier than 'Chasing Liberty' or 'First Daughter'!"
4 stars

David Mamet writes dialogue that doesn't quite reflect how people really talk, but that doesn't quite sound fake, either. It's full of stops and starts and figures of speech, and it makes his plays and movies colorful, to say the least.

But more important than the style of his language is how smart it is. Mamet dialogue is rarely expository -- that is, it never seems to be saying, "Here's the premise for our movie; here's who that guy his; here's who this guy is." In "Spartan," for example, we are dropped into a tense situation and only learn the particulars after we eavesdrop on the participants. The film proceeds that way, letting us spy on the characters and figure things out for ourselves, rather than giving everyone nametags and expository monologues.

It adds some extra excitement to what is essentially a fairly standard, albeit handsomely realized, political thriller. At the outset, the Secret Service detail in Boston has been thrown into chaos because the president's daughter, a student at Harvard, has disappeared. Val Kilmer leads the charge as a CIA officer named Scott, taking his rookie partner (Derek Luke) along as he hunts down the leads, follows the clues, and discovers that some truly sinister work is afoot. It's a kidnapping, but hoo-boy, is it ever more than that, and it stretches into the realm of terrorism, betrayal and creepy nightclubs.

Mamet, who also directed the film, establishes some pretty tense moments through it all, including one where we're not sure whether or not Scott really is going to stab out the eye of a reluctant witness. Scott is the kind of agent who might do such a thing, and Mamet is the kind of storyteller who might let him.

Some actors are better at handling Mamet's dialogue than others, and it shows in the awkward performances by some of the less-experienced members of the troupe. Kilmer is not among those who have mastered it, but William H. Macy is, and he has a small but satisfying role as a shadowy government bigwig.

It's good, enthralling stuff, as far as it goes. It's nothing new, for sure, but it's old tricks that have been repackaged very well.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/04/05 18:14:20
[printer] printer-friendly format  
This film is available for download or online viewing at For more in the series, click here.

User Comments

2/17/10 jreneski interesting remake of Helen of Troy complete with a Trojan Horse 4 stars
3/23/08 david good plot, horrible acting 2 stars
5/20/07 R.W. Welch Murky in spots, but a watchable political thriller. 4 stars
11/28/05 kemperman watchable but flawed 3 stars
10/26/05 Katie Evridge Pointless 1 stars
10/11/05 Agent Sands Not nearly as good as "Heist," but I love a shady, sinister protagonist. 4 stars
9/20/05 ERIC ROBERT WILKINSON Mamet makes a film unlike any of his other work, and brimming with greatness! 4 stars
7/04/05 Ice Queen engaging 5 stars
4/19/05 Indrid Cold That Mamet dialogue; half the time you don't know what they're talking about. 4 stars
4/07/05 Landshark If you have any brains, bring em, you'll need em. 5 stars
2/12/05 Joe Uninteresting characters, plot makes no sense 1 stars
1/22/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Finally Val Kilmer looks good. Mamet makes it all happen. 5 stars
1/05/05 Dave Chen Great! Must see! 5 stars
7/31/04 Uncle Phucker Slow and exciting simultaneously. The best film of the year so far. 5 stars
7/12/04 Dann Carter intriguing,Val Kilmer is good as usual,definitely worth a look! 4 stars
7/10/04 maureen baker wow- a great film with all sorts of betrayal, suspense and mayhem. Incredible acting! 5 stars
7/09/04 David C Good story, not predicatble, Mamet style makes it work. Kilmer in a good movie for a change 5 stars
7/04/04 Brilliant story arc unfolds with twists and turns and pulls you along. Kilmer is a badass. 5 stars
6/28/04 Bill K Ridiculous plot (holes everywhere). Nobody wears kevlar. Stupid conspiracy idea. 1 stars
4/24/04 We ARE in World War III. That's a FACT! DAMN hollywood for trashing that truth in the mouth of one of its piddling villains! 1 stars
4/24/04 Jenny Tullwartz None of characters likeable, plot often ioncomprensibly brutal, geography wrong 1 stars
3/29/04 NoRefill Good movie. Typical Mamet dialogue, twists, acting. Entertaining story, a little overdone. 4 stars
3/28/04 S. Ritter Keeps you talking -- and think -- long after you have left the theatre. 5 stars
3/26/04 George Hart In a class by itself in this genre, fantastic 5 stars
3/22/04 Manning Good plot, good directing, definately worth seeing 5 stars
3/21/04 True Grit This film kicked ass. Finally Mamet has learned to use his style entertainly. 5 stars
3/16/04 Mike R. Good plot, not great acting/char dev. 3 stars
3/15/04 Laurie DeLeve Good guys a little too good, bad guys are drawn just a little too bad. 4 stars
3/13/04 V. Smith Solid, but 'art house,' espionage thriller. 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  12-Mar-2004 (R)
  DVD: 15-Jun-2004



Directed by
  David Mamet

Written by
  David Mamet

  Val Kilmer
  Derek Luke
  William H. Macy
  Kristen Bell
  Alexandra Kerry
  Johnny Messner

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast