Monday, July 26th, 2004
I think David Mamet’s Spartan came and went from theatres earlier this year with barely a blip, and to be honest it didn’t register with me either. If I recall, trailers were vague about the plot – someone is kidnapped, action ensues – and there weren’t any really big names in the cast. Val Kilmer hasn’t really been a big name for a while now, I think, and William H Macy gets his name on the poster despite barely being in the film.
Either way, it’s a shame because it’s really quite a good film. Kilmer is quite good as an Army Ranger who’s called in when the daughter of a high-profile individual goes missing, and it goes from there – I’m not going to go into it any further lest I spoil the story. By doling out the information very slowly through the film, revealing just enough to keep things moving, Mamet keeps the tension up from the get-go and keeps things masterfully off-balance – nothing is spelled out, it’s left to the viewer to work it out in their heads while trying to keep up with the action. You don’t even have time to absorb the amount of political commentary until it’s all over. It’s only in the final act, which seems to be Mamet’s Achilles Heel, that things go off the rails, but even then it doesn’t negate the fine job that’s been done to that point.
In truth, it felt a lot like a particularly good episode of 24, less the real-time gimmick and unnecessary filler. That’s a compliment, by the way. Mamet seems to be coming into his own as a filmwriter and not just a playwright writing for film. This film has more action than his earlier films, though it still maintains his trademark dialogue and rhythm. I’ll give this one a definite recommendation and certainly worth a rental.
Some Toronto concert notes:
So let me get this straight – these GBV tour dates are it? There are no more forthcoming? They’re not coming back to Toronto? Sonofabitch.
np – Yo La Tengo / Electr-O-Pura