I should probably preface this with my love of Mamet films. So many desirable characteristics, from the tight plotting, great characters, hard and unique dialogue, and some of the most beautifully obscure and interesting phrases ever. I've also been quite impressed with his ability as a director, primarily in how confidently he can direct his actors through his trademark dialogue. Spartan continues along the lines of Heist, The Spanish Prisoner, and (to a degree) House of Games in that they are focused on the process. Be it how you fleece someone for all of the money they have, how you obtain the unobtainable, or how you doublecross a doublecrosser, they focus on the details of how you go about it. Following in that tradition, Spartan goes through how you get back a kidnapped girl at any cost. I was continually amazed at both how it kept me on the edge of my seat while also being so raw with the details. Very little is hand held, starting you with little preparation and keeping you off balance with each new development. True to form, the characters speak the shorthand of a life well lived, lending little help to us as observers and getting you to hang on for the ride. It would be criminal to go into detail on the plot, but I found it both to be fresh and inventive while also reminiscent of a previous Mamet script (which I can't mention) in a way I found to be quite fun. In terms of the cast, they are uniformly good. A bare handful of previous players make an appearance, but the real standouts are relatively fresh. Derek Luke and Tia Texada both made very positive impressions as proteges of Smith. As the lead, Val Kilmer gives a great deal of confidence and determination to the role. His ability to suppress his understanding and care for his trainees was well done and made a few moments of reflection especially effective. I haven't enjoyed Val this much since Heat (although I did quite like Red Planet as well). Mamet's direction is very economical and the action sequences are grittily real without being over the top. I have a feeling that, similar to many of his films, quite a lot of people won't like it. But I found it to be a very well done film, containing many of things I've come to love about David Mamet's work as well as breaking into some nice new territory. I'm hard pressed to think about how it would be improved. Overall, I'd rate it as a (out of four).