*** Official SPARTAN Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Alex Spindler, Mar 12, 2004.

  1. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
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    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 [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] (out of four).
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Spartan". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.

  3. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    While I enjoyed watching how things played out (and the way Mamet sets things up, he never gets there, it's always a new development that scraps the "conceived" course of action, being nimble is a must for this protagonist played by Val Kilmer), his dialogue is wearing a little thin on me because he basically has most of the characters simply repeat fragments of their last phrase/sentence to maintain the trademark Mamet cadence. It's starting to sound forced by me.

    But it's still watchable (in the "what's gonna happen next" department), though the vagaries of the plot leave something to be desired because I got the feeling that there were some mechanics of the plot that would fail under careful scrutiny (as in "well, wasn't that convenience..." category).

    It was still one of the better movie viewing experience of 2004, so I give it 2.75 stars, or a grade of B-.
  4. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    A political suspense-thriller that is surprisingly fresh, tightly written and one that actually works especially under tight scrutiny of the details. One of my complaints about modern-day thrillers with a lot of twists and turns is that they only work while the film is playing and falls apart upon further analysis of the details. Here, David Mamet has written and directed one where the plot details actually holds up. For the most part, one can always count on Mamet to deliver a smart and well thought-out script.

    Thanks also to a very strong cast led by Val Kilmer and Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) in a supporting role. Over the years, Mr. Kilmer has proven to be one of those actors that can be relied on to deliver a strong and at times, understated performance. The music by Mark Isham is also very effective.

    Spartan is one of the better suspense-thrillers in recent years.


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