So David Mamet thinks audience research is rubbish. Pity. Maybe his most recent film would have been improved if he had done the scantest peice of research. F’rinstance the audience no longer considers Val Kilmer to be a leading man, especially now he has gone to fat. Furthermore said audience certainly do not consider him to be any good.

Spartan is David Mamet’s version of 24. And it is a great pity that the plot at least was not stolen for an episode of that show. Because its plot: daughter of the President is kidnapped and they have a weekend before the press find out to get her back, is a doozy. As are the plot twists. The problem is, the characters and the dialogue is terrible. Really, really bad. So bad that it draws attention to itself and actually distracts you what should be an effective if small thriller.

This is David Mamet in 2004. Like Heist, his last piece of macho bullshit plot twistery, there is little in this film to warm to. Mamet is a very good plot writer, but his ear for dialogue is almost complete self parody these days. Not that when he wanders away from macho ares he is much better, State And Main was on the whole lacklustre. It is a pity because in Spartan there is easy the best series of 24 trying to get out. But he fits six twists into an hour and a half and garnishes with squinty eyed lines like “You wanted to go through the looking glass. How was it? Was it more fun than miniature golf?”.

Still, according to IMDB, he has signed on to make a Will Ferrell film: Joan Of Bark: The Dog That Saved France, so its not all bad news.