C. A. Luster | Burke, VA USA | 03/13/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't usually let good movies like this slip by, but somehow I didn't catch Spartan when it first released. Fortunately I rented it and now I'm here to buy it. Exceptionally taut and rapid developing story never lets up. You will feel you are with Val Kilmer training special forces recruits and then trailing the disappearance of a young girl. Interviews with suspects quickly lead them to a slave trade and then preparation for an overseas flight to take down the gang. News of her death while yachting doesn't ring true when his partner indicates he saw signs of her at the entry point of the slave trade. You best sit tight and pause if you have to leave the room because you will not want to miss a minute of this action thriller. I for one was never sure what to expect next and you may find yourself wondering who Kilmer will kill including his team. I highly recommend it. Good quality DVD with standard extras. If you enjoyed this catch Mindhunters.
Jason C. Wilkerson | Green Bay, WI | 06/06/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When Laura Newton (Kristen Bell), the daughter of a high ranking government official and a student at Harvard, goes missing Bobby Scott's (Val Kilmer) services are enlisted in Boston to help find the missing girl. Joined by a former recruit fresh out of training named Curtis (Derek Luke), Scott investigates the disappearance, but as he goes further down the rabbit hole looking for Laura he learns that there may be more to the disappearance than initially expected.
There are very few writers who know their way around a line of dialogue quite like David Mamet. As a playwright he received the Pulitzer for his brilliant play Glengarry Glen Ross (which he later adapted for the screen), and as a screenwriter he's been nominated for Oscars for both Wag the Dog and The Verdict. But you won't have to look very far to see movies based on his work from The Untouchables to Hannibal and back to The Postman Always Rings Twice, not to mention he created the TV show The Unit. For his tenth feature film as a director, Mamet decided to create a film inspired in part by Eric L. Haney, one of the founding members of the elite Delta Force, who also served as one the technical advisers on the film.
One of David Mamet's greatest abilities as a writer is to take a screenplay and a film that could easily become cliche, and turn it on it's ear and make it fresh. With Spartan, he takes a film that in a lesser filmmakers hands would have been over the top and grounds it in reality through dialogue and giving the plot situations that don't seem too far off from real life. Often, we don't think of men in situations like Bobby Scott's in Spartan as being something that could be real, but Mamet treats it like this is something that could, and does happen, and makes the audience believe it.
But there's only so much one man can do when working with a cast of actors, and it's really the job of the actors to sell us the characters, and each actor truly sells it. Val Kilmer, who I personally think is very underrated, is Bobby Scott. When you watch him on the screen in this movie, you have no doubt that this man will recover Laura Newton, you know he has the training and the experience to get it done. The performance that really caught me by surprise though was Kristen Bell as the aforementioned Laura. If all you know her from is Forgetting Sarah Marshall, she will completely surprise you here.
Spartan is a movie that's almost perfect, where it nearly falls apart is in one of the final scenes of the movie. It's understandable that Mamet had to throw in one last confrontation in, but unfortunately what he does throw in doesn't feel completely organic. I don't want to give anything away, mostly due to the fact that I'm not one to spoil things for everyone, but also because you might not feel the same way I do concerning this ending.
Overall, I highly recommend this movie. While not completely based on a true story, there are elements that have basis in real experiences, and we often don't realize the covert operations that are taken on in an effort to keep us from worrying about some of the darker things that happen throughout the world around us. Mamet did an amazing job of conveying that real world sentiment to film while also making a highly entertaining film.