Spartan ****

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“Spartan” is a movie that nobody really ever saw. It is one of the best spy thrillers of the last decade. It was written and directed by David Mamet, and in typical Mamet fashion, the dialogue and the events of the movie are all driven by the characters and their personalities. Mamet does not play by the rules no matter what genre of film he is making.

In this movie, a covert agent is dispatched to find the presidents daughter who has been kidnapped and sold over seas as a sex slave. For the first half of the movie the daughter is not even mentioned by name. Everything is so mysterious. Probably because the characters don’t talk in typical movie speak. Most generic thrillers have the characters standing around talking about the plot but in a Mamet movie they act as if they are real people. Everything happens as if there is not an audience watching.

Val Kilmer stars as Robert Scott, the agent on the case. This might be his last great performance to date. He is masterful as a character who can think on his feet, extract information, and stay one step ahead of his enemies. Derek Luke plays his unofficial partner.

Other name actors show up in minor but important roles. William H. Macy plays another government official who reveals to have a darker agenda later in the film. Ed O’Neil drops in to gather information and provide intelligence. These roles are limited in screen time but are integral to the plot in more ways than one.

It is important that movies like “Spartan” find an audience. If they do not become a success then studios will not continue to make them. Instead we get generic thrillers that are cut together out of clichés and boring dialogue. It is nice to see a movie where I have no clue where it will take me or how it will play out.

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