Reader: Didja see the film? Critic: Saw the film.
Reader: Cuz I heard ya gotta see the film.
Critic: Definitely seeable. Not great. Not great. Pretty damn good.
Reader: Cuz I heard it’s very ...
Critic: Mamet? Definitely Mamet. Called Spartan.
Critic: Dialogue. Crisp. Minimal. Spartan.
Critic: Mamet ... frustrating, sometimes. Don’t hate him. Don’t love him. Annoys me. Inspires me.
Reader: Original stuff.
Critic: Original stuff, sure. Experimental. An experimental action movie. President’s daughter kidnapped. Taken. Gotta find her.
Critic: Secret. Army? Rangers? Dunno. Mamet keeps it close. Lots of camouflage, sleek guns.
Reader: They took?
Critic: No, they find.
Reader: Who took?
Critic: White slavers. Arab. Bad guys du jour. Sex slaves. Mamet loves those edges where women are ...
Reader: Property. Not that it doesn’t happen ...
Critic: Sure. Happens all the time, probably.
Critic: Preposterous. And not just slavers. Conspiracies. Everybody’s ...
Critic: Nefarious. Up to no good. Hard to like. Even the good guys.
Critic: Kilmer. Val. Prickly. Always liked him. Smart actor. Never took the easy road.
Reader: Army Ranger and sleek gun?
Critic: Maybe Marine? That’s him. Don’t get to know him. A machine. Ultimate soldier. Barely human. Yet ...
Critic: Kilmer’s compelling. Intense. Stuff going on in his head we never know about. Kilmer makes this machine of a soldier ...
Critic: Compelling. Intense.
Reader: But not likeable.
Critic: Not your basic popcorn hero.
Reader: Not that that’s bad. Anyone else?
Critic: William Macy. Ed O’Neill. Shady government types. Can’t trust ’em. Can’t trust anyone. Coulda done with a bit more on them. Why? Who? How?
Reader: Mysterious. Nefarious.
Critic: Maybe preposterous. Maybe just underdeveloped.
Reader: And that kid? Derek Luke?
Critic: New guy. Working with Val. Neophyte. Screws up. Screws up so bad it’s almost ...
Critic: Preposterous. And yet ...
Reader: Still something there. Edginess?
Critic: Edginess, but also ... change of pace.
Reader: Change of pace. For?
Critic: For everyone tired of same-old action. Bruckheimer. Bay. McG. The anti-Mamets. So I’ll take some frustration and some annoyance ...
Reader: In return for ...
Critic: Unpredictability. Challenge.
Reader: Challenging action flick. Not for everyone.
Critic: Hot-button stuff. Makes ya uncomfortable. Touches some nerves. Terrorism. Government coverups. Corruption. Can’t trust anyone. Maybe not Kilmer. Maybe not Luke. Maybe not Mamet.
Reader: And that’s good?
Critic: That’s good. Someone’s dealing with today’s ...
Critic: Paranoia. Unease. Helplessness. And in a way that’s not ... easy. Pat. Happy-ending.
Reader: It’s real.
Critic: Real. Even if it is preposterous.
SPARTAN, ***, Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, William H. Macy, Rated PG-13