Spartan on DVD
Spartan is a good movie, but we doubt theres a person on the planet who
hasnt seen the same thing before.
Robert Scott belongs to the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and Black Ops. Or does
he? Who is Robert Scott, and where does his loyalty lie? Whos good and
whos bad? What exactly is going on?
All questions one must ask when watching Spartan.
When the daughter of a high government official is kidnapped (or is she?),
the governments top bodies spring into action to try and bring her back
before the story leaks. Unfortunately, because theres so much going on
and so many twists, thats about all you can reveal without spoiling some
of the fun.
Written and directed by David Mamet, Spartan is a very well constructed, well
written, and well-delivered film. The acting is uniformly excellent from an
excellent cast (including one of the most unfortunately career-dead celebrities,
Val Kilmer), and theres plenty of suspense and action to keep things moving
along smoothly. Kilmers performance is good enough, but not nearly as
good as his work in The Doors and Tombstone. Derek Luke, who was so good in
Antwone Fisher, is good when hes there, but hes barely a supporting
character here. In fact, the same could also be said for William H. Macy and
Spartan is a race-against-time political thriller thats extremely well
done. But of course it isn't perfect.
The first problem is that its just more of the same stuff we've seen
before. There have been a million and a half political thrillers (rarely done
this well, to be fair), so theres just not a lot of novelty appeal. Everyone
we mentioned the movie to said it sounded boring, stupid,
or like the same old crap.
But dont be scared: its a lot better than it sounds.
The second problem is that the movie is a little hard to follow if you aren't
paying absolute attention. We watched the first 40 minutes twice and still didnt
quite get what was going on. That may have been Mamets intention, though
we aren't quite sure.
At the time of its release, Spartan had the lowest opening weekend of the year
for a major release. Now its speedy trip to DVD has resulted in a better-than-expected
disc presentation that features 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital
The picture is often very dark, but the color and detail are both very sharp.
A few scenes look a little soft with a touch of grain, but overall the quality
is pretty impressive.
Audio is not spectacular, with surrounds limited to gunshots and other action-related
sound effects. But separation between the front channels is done well enough
to give the suspenseful scenes a bit of extra kick.
Extras are limited to a theatrical trailer and a surprisingly good audio commentary
by Val Kilmer. At first we were hoping hed apologize for letting his career
get to a point where hed do The Saint and At First Sight, but once he
got going we were glad to have what we got. Hes a charming fellow, so
much so that we werent sure if he had anything interesting to say or if
he were just talking about stuff. But he's interesting.
Spartan, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
107 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Val Kilmer, Derek Luke and William H. Macy
Produced by Elie Samaha, David Bergstein
Written and directed by David Mamet
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