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VAL Kilmer is a hard-nosed, tough and extremely capable 'yes man'.

He's a career soldier who knows how to take an order and get the job done, regardless of the cost. So when the President's daughter vanishes, who gets the call? Yep - Val.

Delivering aggression and calm as each situation dictates, he completes his given tasks with unquestioning and unnerving efficiency, following every lead in what appears to be a seedy kidnapping.

But writer/director David Mamet isn't interested in what initially appears to be a straightforward snatch. He creates a twisting political thriller that leads Val to discover that perhaps those in power have other agendas, that winning votes is more important than saving lives.

Mamet conjures up a dark, shady and grey world, where truth is whatever the spin-doctors tell us.

It's atmospheric and sharp, and delivered with enough authority, plot twists and convincing dialogue to keep you interested.

Of course it's implausible, but the action rolls at such a pace that you hardly get time to think about it.

But for all its aspirations, at its heart Spartan is an average thriller simply delivered with intelligence and confidence.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 8, 2004
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