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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, William H Macy, Ed O’Neill, Kristen Bell

Director: David Mamet

In ancient times in a land called Sparta the ruler of this land would send one soldier whenever any land asked for military assistance – the Spartan. In SPARTAN the president’s daughter is missing, presumed kidnapped but this is being kept very quiet to avoid media frenzy. A team of specialist intelligence officers are assigned the duty of getting her back. The point man in this particular exercise is a highly trained and ruthless operative named Robert Scott (Val Kilmer). Robert Scott is the kind of officer who believes entirely in the mission at hand and as such will stop at nothing to get it done. He is paired with a young enthusiastic officer named Curtis (Derek Luke).

As the investigation gets underway Scott comes across a sex slave ring that he suspects the girl may have ended up in. Before a mission can be mounted to go in and retrieve the girl, news is received of the discovery of the dead girl’s body. Scott is called off the mission and he promptly returns to his alternative simple existence. Curtis is not convinced though so he confronts Scott and forces him to question the whole investigation and his long standing work ethic of following orders and not deciding what those orders should be. As a series of events quickly fall into place Scott is pushed into deciding between either accepting his old work ethic or for once make a decision for himself.

Val Kilmer does an excellent job here with his portrayal of a hardcore officer who is used to working within whatever parameters are set for him and he gets the character spot on. The supporting cast of William H Macy, Derek Luke and Ed O’Neil amongst others is also superb. They all add to the bleak picture that this film paints of the world of politics and espionage.

Direction from David Mamet is good and he keeps the film in the right focus, almost noir with a very twisty dialogue and very ruthless, heartless characters. The soundtrack alas does not effectively enhance the mood of the film.

SPARTAN is an above average adult thriller but it could have been so much better with more character development for the main character, Robert Scott, and benefited from more action to establish just how effective Scott actually is.

Nonetheless this is still worth a look especially for fans of the TV series 24 as the central character here has a lot of similar work ethics to Jack Bauer.

4 out of 6 stars