Spartan, David Mamet (2004)

Val Kilmer is a modern-day Spartan, a special forces / CIA / Secret Service type (we’re not sure which) whose job is to execute the orders of his superiors, not question them or think them over. But when confronted with irrefutable evidence that his superiors are using him for evil rather than good, he faces a choice. An elegant problem play from Mamet, coated in a thin veneer of action-movie candy so as to sell tickets. Does that last make Mamet something of a reverse aesthetic Spartan? True to his art until marketplace exigencies require him to crank up the special effects machines? Not really, because I think he actually enjoys the shootouts for their own sake. With a very nice turn by the always-excellent William H. Macy, whose parents long had no idea, I’m sure, that they were put on earth expressly to provide David Mamet with his ideal actor.

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