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Overall Rating
4.08

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

5 reviews, 29 user ratings


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Spartan
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by Brian McKay

"An example of how to make a non-boring political suspense thriller"
4 stars

After coming home from a viewing of the rather disappointing remake of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, I discovered that a copy of David Mamet's SPARTAN had arrived in my mailbox courtesy of the good people at Netflix. Still craving a political-style thriller that wouldn't put me to sleep at the halfway mark, I decided to give it a spin and was not disappointed.

Val Kilmer plays Robert Scott, a special forces operative who is called upon to serve as a field agent when the daughter of a high-ranking politician (presumably The President, but never specified) goes missing. Using a combination of subterfuge and brute force, Scott follows the missing girl's trail to a gang of abductors who specialize in young blonde women for the middle-eastern white slavery market. At first, the abduction seems to be a fluke, with the kidnappers not recognizing who their captive is. But as Scott gets closer to the girl, he discovers an entanglement of conspiracy and coverup that goes beyond a random kidnapping by a few Islamic whoremasters.

As can be expected with the average David Mamet film, the dialogue is sharp, crisp, and sometimes rapid-fire - even if it's not always natural-sounding. Kilmer manages to give a performance that's effective and subdued without becoming wooden, and gives Scott an unpredictable edginess that is refreshing. He's the kind of guy who won't hesitate to break someone's arm or take out their eye, once it's become obvious that talking and bribing won't get the required results.

Kilmer is backed by an engaging cast, including Derek Luke and Tia Texada as a pair of soldiers eager to assist Scott up in his attempts to find the girl, and Kristen Bell as the kidnapped first daughter who has an axe to grind with daddy. William Macy also pops his head in the door for the second act in what appears to be a mere cameo, only to resurface later in a bit of "out of left field" casting.

While SPARTAN isn't as dialogue-heavy or character driven as most of Mamet's work, it moves at a steady clip, boasting a smart (if at times slightly far-fetched) narrative, a few surprising twists, and some respectable action sequences. It's not exactly GLEN GARY GLEN ROSS with gunfights, but it'll do.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8820&reviewer=258
originally posted: 08/03/04 02:49:18
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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 rocky@volcanomail.com 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Mar-2004 (R)
  DVD: 15-Jun-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  15-Jul-2004


Directed by
  David Mamet

Written by
  David Mamet

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



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