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Spartan
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: Johnny Moreno
Spartan order
Director:
David Mamet

Actors:
Val Kilmer
Derek Luke
William H. Macy

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Seasoned Special Ops. vet Robert Scott (Kilmer) is used to high risk assignments from high-ranking government officials. Paired up with his new recruit Curtis (Luke), their new assignment is to locate the kidnapped daughter of said high-ranking government official before the story leaks. Those silly politicos; always misplacing their children at re-election time.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Well, itís not a bad movie, but it didnít exactly blow me away either. Twists and turns have become so common and the norm nowadays that Iíve become a bit desensitized by it (kind of like porn). No fault of Mametís, of course, since heís perfected these devices consistently over the years. That said, the twists and turns did have me engaged and intrigued enough to not shut it off. I liked the story, liked the characters and Mametís way of always placing the viewer in the middle of a situation, as if these characters and the world they inhabit have always been there and always will be. The one thing I really liked about the story was the fact that you never learn who the father of the girl is. We just kinda assume itís the President or someone high up like that. And before I get any spoiler hate mail, donít worry, thatís not spoiling anything.

ďWhere is the girl? Where is the girl? Where is the girl?Ē becomes less of a question and more of a mantra. The phrase is repeated (and badly) over 1462 timesÖin the first half hour. Seriously, after hearing it for the first third of the movie, by the time Ed OíNeill came in and asked ďWhereís the girl?Ē, I totally lost it. Come on, itís Al Bundy saying this! (Who actually chalks up a serious and believable performance). William H. Macy also turns up in a subtle but important (and creepy) role and Derek Luke impressed me as the wide-eyed protťgť of Val Kilmer, which leads us toÖVal Kilmer. Val, what happened dude? You seemed to sleepwalk right through this. Maybe itís the hokey dialogue (at one point, someone yells a variation of the ďI came here to kick ass and chew bubble gumĒ line), maybe itís the pacing or the fact that Kilmerís character is a secret agent who always has to ďactĒ, but man, Val, you had me recalling the glorious days of THE DOORS, TOP SECRET! and HEAT and wondering what happened. I havenít seen WONDERLAND yet so Iím not going to completely write you off, youíre still The Man, but youíre slipping bro.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by Val Kilmer: Kilmer seems genuinely enthused about his work on the picture and working with Mamet, which is odd since I found him so flat and ghostly in his performance. He goes in detail about his research with FBI and CIA agents in the film and also the research he has done in the past with HEAT and THE SAINT. The guy just plain likes the subject of espionage and reiterates the philosophies of secret agents heís come across during his time. Interesting stuff! Also interesting is Kilmer eating (annoying!) and kinda being pissed that Mamet cut a bunch of scenes that he felt were the best stuff in the film and hopes it ends up on the DVD. Val, it doesnít.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
We canít stop here, this is Mamet Country! If youíre really into Mamet or espionage-type stuff, then The Clinic suggests you rent this puppy, as the lack of special features donít warrant a purchase. If youíre not even a casual viewer of Mametís work, then watch THE BOURNE IDENTITY or SPY GAME again because the style and pace of his writing/directing will tend to annoy the butt-plug out of you.
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