Dialogue 

New Mamet? Yeah, Spartan. Perfect? No. Compelling? Yeah.

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.


Reader: Yeah?


Critic: Dialogue. Crisp. Minimal. Spartan.


Reader: Mamet.


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.


Reader: Who?


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.


Reader: Preposterous?


Critic: Preposterous. And not just slavers. Conspiracies. Everybody’s ...


Reader: Nefarious?


Critic: Nefarious. Up to no good. Hard to like. Even the good guys.


Reader: Who?


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 ...


Reader: Yet?


Critic: Kilmer’s compelling. Intense. Stuff going on in his head we never know about. Kilmer makes this machine of a soldier ...


Reader: Compelling?


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 ...


Reader: Preposterous?


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 ...


Reader: Paranoia?


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.


Reader: Preposterous.


Critic: Preposterous.

SPARTAN, ***, Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, William H. Macy, Rated PG-13

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MaryAnn Johanson

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