MOVIE: Spartan (2004)

It’s been years since I last saw a David Mamet film, and I have to say, I just love the way he puts movies together.  That signature dialogue — not just the words he has his characters say, but the cadence in which they say them — I think it’s absolutely brilliant.  Even if I don’t know I’m about to watch a Mamet film, I know it’s Mamet as soon as the first character opens his or her mouth.  I love that.  And now that I’ve gotten a taste of his work again, I’m eager to go back and rewatch all my old favorites, like The Spanish Prisoner, and House of Games.  Oy, Davey-boy, you are da bomb.

What’s remarkable about this movie is the way Mamet takes a storyline that starts out very Law & Order: SVU and then turns it into a completely different animal.  It opens with Secret Service agent Scott (Val Kilmer) helping with the selection of a few new agents (who knew that process was so cutthroat?).  He gets called away, though, when the President’s daughter disappears from her college campus.  The team has about 48 hours to find her before the media realizes she’s gone — once the story breaks, whoever took her is sure to kill her.  Scott begins to investigate, but just as he finally gets a tip on her location, her body is found floating off the shores of Martha’s Vineyard — killed in a boating accident.

Or so they say.

From there, the story takes a sharp turn, as Smith uncovers the truth about what really happened to the girl.  It involves a wide variety of elements — a prostitution ring in Dubai, an upcoming presidential election, an extremely bad haircut, the shooting of many an innocent, etc. etc. etc.  But while the story is complex, it never gets convoluted.  And even though it’s definitely not going down as my favorite Mamet movie of all time (I think that one’s probably House of Games — the first Mamet movie I ever saw and one that just blew my mind), I REALLY enjoyed this film.  Great action, great suspense, great dialogue, and no clutter whatsoever.  If I had to pick one negative thing to say about Spartan, I’d say it was just a little bit on the predictable side — but it’s so much fun watching Kilmer in this role that it just didn’t bother me at all.

Definitely recommend this one, especially if you like Val or William H. Macy (who at first I thought was just getting a cameo part — Mamet often casts him in his movies — but then, as usual, he practically ends up stealing the movie).  And, oh yeah, Kristen Bell — she plays the President’s daughter, and does so extremely well.  All in all, a very entertaining way to spend an evening.  Well worth a rental next time you’re in the mood for something energetic and fun.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Action, Drama
Cast:  Val Kilmer, William H. Macy, Kristen Bell, Tia Texada, Derek Luke

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