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

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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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