Movie #40 Spartan
(2004, US, d. David Mamet)
This was because of Mamet. Any other director – ANY other director – could have easily turned this into a popcorn action-film about an no-funny-business rogue agent on a mission to rescue the kidnapped daughter of the President. But Mamet manages something much more fragile and eerie. A quiet action piece. An action piece that takes its time in actually letting the audience know what the plot of the film is or who it is that has been kidnapped. Mamet’s incredibly minimalistic style reveals itself throughout the repetition of dialogue and the absence of any real character development (save for where the protagonist lives). In fact, the one time someone is about delve into their past, a gunshot rips the silence and shatters any hope of ever finding out who these people are. A skilled playwright, Mamet directs Val Kilmer to one of his best performances (his best easily being in Shane Black’s 2005 noir-comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and one of the most incredible cinematic sequences in which Kilmer must convince two convicts he’s a baddie himself.