Projections - Movie Reviews

Starring Derek Luke, William H. Macy, Val Kilmer,
Ed O'Neill, Kristen Bell, Johnny Messner

David Mamet, the gifted playwright and movie-maker, known for Glengarry Glen Ross and House of Games, is back with a sly political thriller, Spartan.

Actor Val Kilmer is in steely form, adapting to Mamet's slick, sententious prose. His Robert Scott is a hardened special operations officer in charge of training highly qualified candidates.

An urgent assignment involves the kidnaping of Laura Newton (Kristen Bell) right from the streets around Harvard where she's a student. Scott and one of his new recruits, Curtis, and engaging Derek Luke Antwone Fisher, have to go deep into covert operations to accomplish this task.

A variation on The Recruit is impelled to stay ahead of the viewer as the uncompromising Scott works with CIA and FBI to make sure the press doesn't break any stories on her whereabouts. Some information is found out by Scott around Harvard Square suggesting Laura might have been led into a white slavery ring indicated by a visit to a seedy tavern.

Figuring in the plot is Mamet favorite William Macy, witty in State and Main, whose character has a political agenda that gets in the way of Scott tracking down Laura. Then, many plot turns, after a new report, take Spartan into complex, yet compelling territory.

A sleek-looking Kilmer Wonderland is up to the challenge of delivering the tough Mamet lines with their particular rhythms as the film becomes more gritty than subliminal, beating to contemporary perspectives on unnerving terrorism. Spartan is often taut and rather convoluted with a wistfulness felt from a swift editing scheme. The problems faced by the military and Secret Service are reflected in a creative cinematography and the convoluted finish is committed to the kind of ruthlessness which attempts to reconcile what can be a brutal, makeshift world.


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