Spartan (2004)
December 19, 2018 11:54 AM - Subscribe

U.S. government agent Scott is assigned to rescue the daughter of a high-ranking government official. As willing as he is to bend the rules to get things done, though, Scott is shocked to find that others are willing to go even further to protect a political career.
posted by jouke (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I remember being entranced by this film. I really should rewatch it soon.

I don't get enough Mamet in my life lately.
posted by ODiV at 11:58 AM on December 19, 2018

I remember really liking this movie. I watched it years ago because I was obsessed with Kristen Bell on Veronica Mars and wanted to see her in other roles. At the time, she hadn't been in much and she has a small, but excellent role here.
posted by Aquifer at 1:01 PM on December 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I always really liked this one for some reason. It's silly, but I think all the clipped/rapid fire Mamet dialog reminds me of a play. It's the same thing I like about The Spanish Prisoner and other Mamet. I've only known Kristen Bell since The Good Place and didn't realize that she was Laura Newton (and Flora on Deadwood.)
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:03 PM on December 19, 2018

I really liked this. It's also the last good movie I remember seeing Val Kilmer in. I'll put this, or Mamet's Ronin, on anytime I see them playing.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 AM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

I've revisited this movie a few times.
I like the coercive very directed repitive speech patterns that the Val Kilmer character employs.
Also the setup with a faked robbery to gain the trust of a prisoner is engaging: to see the behind-the-scenes of police professionals. And then the professionalism of the security detail around the presidents wife.
posted by jouke at 7:29 AM on December 20, 2018

This and Way of the Gun are my go-to movies for action movie competence porn that doesn’t reach into superhuman feats a la The Raid and John Wick.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:06 PM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

I do like competence in characters. It's sort of why I liked the Jack Reacher movie. It's interesting that in Spartan, despite all his badass patter, Val Kilmer's character sort of is always fucking up a little, or dealing with something that went wrong; it feels like a losing battle against fate and luck.

The dummy to fool the sniper is one of my favorite clever little bits of any movie.

The line about "In the city always a reflection," has worked its way into me and my SO's commentary whenever there's a scene in movies where someone like spots a tail in a reflection, which is basically all the time.
posted by fleacircus at 5:15 PM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

I remember, for some reason, listening to the DVD commentary on this one, and after about the halfway point it’s just Val Kilmer savagely roasting David Mamet.
posted by chrchr at 10:41 PM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

I agree with the praise for the dialog and Kilmer's performance, but what I recall about Spartan is that in 2003-2204 Mamet was so furious about the Republicans and Iraq that the film posits George W. Bush would willingly trade a daughter into sexual slavery to avoid political embarassment. Apparently, Republicans don't love their children. As much as I dispised that administration, I thought that just a bit much.

These days, as you may have read, Mamet has done a 180 and it's liberals and Democrats who are the spawn of Satan. A really thoughtful, well-wrapped guy.
posted by mojohand at 8:26 AM on December 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

To me, this film is Peak Mamet.
posted by seasparrow at 9:53 AM on December 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Watched this again, the other night. As seasparrow says, Peak Mamet dialog.


Grace: Nice knife.

Scott: Yeah. Got it off an East German fella.

Grace: He give it to ya for a gift?

Scott: No. As I recall, he was.......rather reluctant to part with it.

Grace: Yeah, I always knew you Marines were a weepy buncha motherfuckers.

Scott: I got something in my eye.


Scott: How you fake the DNA?

Donny: You don't fake the DNA. You issue a press release.

posted by lalochezia at 12:49 PM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ha lalochezia. That dialog about the knife is so striking. And then it's even more impressive that if turns out later to fill an important role in a plot twist. Being able to combine plot progression and what I'd call gender couleur locale is very rare.
posted by jouke at 8:07 AM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

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