A fateful event leads to a job in the film business for top mixed-martial arts instructor Mike Terry. Though he refuses to participate in prize bouts, circumstances conspire to force him to consider entering such a competition.
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Maverick Ranger Scott, known for ruthless, unorthodox methods but good results, is called in to help the secret service after Washington big whig's brat daughter is abducted while studying at Harvard. Scott quickly realizes the protection detail's prime suspect, her boyfriend Michael Blake, is innocent and dumped her for being a drug-addicted slut. Next he traces her to a bordello, only to realize the captors didn't realize who she is but simply recruited her for the Middle Eastern white slavery market, and are likely to dispose of her rather than confront her father. But instead of the support expected in such high-profile case, Scott gets orders to work in secret before the press catches on, and even finds his quest sabotaged. Written by
Producer Art Linson and David Mamet were having lunch when Linson informed Mamet that he could not get anything more than a no frills budget for the movie. Val Kilmer was literally at the next table. Linson knew Kilmer and asked him to come over, and they talked about the production. Kilmer was so impressed with the story and Mamet's vision that he agreed to the role giving a significant discount to facilitate Franchise Pictures giving a green-light to the production. See more »
The "scarecrow" that Scott throws from behind the shed to divert the sniper fire is clearly a human stunt double. See more »
You had your whole life to prepare for this moment. Why aren't you ready?
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Directed well, some good acting, but certainly not flawless Mamet
David Mamet's Spartan had me leaving the theater thinking 'yeah, it was a good movie, some things I didn't understand'. Perhaps that's Mamet's intention- he's one of the reigning rulers of writers who use calculated, cool twists in storytelling- but I felt the moments in the film where I wasn't surprised so much by the turns taken. Not to say Spartan doesn't have some surprises (a few elements, such as a couple of deaths and a revelation or two which I won't put down here), and as a visual storyteller I got involved in the tension building with Val Kilmer's situation.
Kilmer, playing both mentor to training rangers and "worker-bee" to the United States government's special op's, is put on the case of the kidnapping of the President's daughter. It needs to be solved before the media grabs it, but it may not be that easy. Kilmer's Scott is a little more distant in tone and style sometimes, thinking of things to say to people that could border on a hack's cliche, yet Mamet isn't unforgivable in all the dialog. What dissapointed me were some of his choices in shots - he's not always as subtle as you might've thought in his cut-aways and use of music. While this is different territory in subject matter (dealing with a thriller on a political, topical scale), some of the tricks Mamet was pulling seemed stagey, and more predictable than he's known for.
Should people rush to theatres to see Spartan? Depends- for fans of Kilmer there's a lingering aura of understatement, concern, of a character who has been following rules his whole life, and it's not that bad. Derek Luke is a formidable supporting presence. Ed O'Neill strikes up some dramatic credit amid his post-Married with Children days. William H. Macy could've deserved a little more screen time to emphasize his importance to the story. And Kristen Bell is believable as the torn daughter. The script isn't rapid fire Mamet in delivery and tone, so it is at a pace that will dissapoint those who are looking for non-stop thrills. Maybe my grade is un-fair- the material does seek to be seen again- but I just didn't get that it was top-shelve stuff. B
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