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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

One of Many Mamet Knock-Outs (recommended especially for students of economics)

9/10
Author: Sturgeon54 from United States
13 June 2005

This obscure made-for-cable adaptation of a David Mamet play can more than hold its own with other acclaimed films of his, including "House of Games", "The Spanish Prisoner"and "The Untouchables." Filled with his usual idiosyncratic dialogue stylistics and a complex plot line involving a bunch of underworld-types who double-cross each other, the storyline is compelling enough as it is. All performances here are stellar, and Macy hits just the right notes as a high strung, jittery, but tenacious inventor of a device that could revolutionize industry, and whose stubbornness, though the catalyst for his invention, could prove to be his downfall. Just as in "The Spanish Prisoner", the particulars of the invention are not nearly important as the massive personal machinations that surround it unceasingly.

What was especially interesting for me, as someone who studied economics, is that this movie successfully portrays a serious flaw in the economic pioneer Adam Smith's Invisible Hand Theory, which states that a competetive capitalist system naturally brings innovations to the marketplace. The problem in the movie is that in a system with monopolistic energy companies, the incentives for innovation are the exact reverse of of those in the theory: instead of innovating, these companies will naturally compete to stifle any new innovation which will interfere with their established system of production. As George C. Scott's character says to a big oil executive in the similar 1980 film "The Formula": "You're not in the oil business. You're in the oil shortage business." The movie raises some very thought-provoking issues. It just might contain some of Mamet's best work - too bad nobody seems to know about it.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great Performance from Macy

Author: Paul M from Los Angeles, CA
4 April 2003

This made for t.v movie premiered on TNT almost ten years ago and promptly forgotten...why I have no idea. Macy is incredible as Lang and Mategna is at his most menancing. This is a dark film but a great one, if you can rent do so, you'll enjoy it.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Water Engine

10/10
Author: stecool25 from United States
8 February 2008

This was a great movie,

TNT played this back to back in the sumer of 93 for two straight days "or more", I think they were trying to tell us something... It was really an eye opener for me. Anyway, believe it or not, you decide.

It just comes to tell you, how far *they* will go... It is a movie that keeps you on your toes, you really do not know what to expect.

It was a Great Performance from William H. Macy. This is a must see, if you can get your hands on a copy. I have not found one yet.

This is one of those movie, that you must watch a couple of times or more.

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2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The Real Con

7/10
Author: that_ealing_feeling from United Kingdom
31 July 2006

Essential viewing for those of us who like David Mamet's highly stylised dialogue and his always watchable cast of regulars, but it's a shame that someone as sharp as he is, and an expert on con games too, should appear to endorse the apparently undying folk myth of the man (there have been several of them) who invents an engine that runs on water but is suppressed by big business. A film that accepted the falsity of free energy/perpetual motion claims and the villainy of the people who promote them - at least one free energy salesman is probably robbing the local farmers of their savings in a Midwest church hall right now - would have been a really ripe subject for Mamet, and a more satisfying film.

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