|Directed by||David Mamet|
|Produced by||David Bergstein
|Written by||David Mamet|
William H. Macy
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||January 31, 2004Bangkok)
March 12, 2004
|Running time||106 minutes|
Spartan is a 2004 American political thriller film written and directed by David Mamet. It features Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, Tia Texada, Ed O'Neill, William H. Macy, and Kristen Bell. It was released in The United States and Canada on 12 March 2004.
Bobby Scott is a former Force Recon Master Gunnery Sergeant, acting as a selection cadre member for Delta Force. While observing a "stress phase" exercise designed to evaluate Delta candidates, Scott meets recruit Curtis and Sergeant Jacqueline Black, an edged-weapons ("knife-fighting") instructor. Sergeant Black and Curtis each demonstrate their competence, and make plain to Scott their ambitions to serve on future missions.
Before he leaves cadre Scott is drawn into a clandestine operation to find and recover the President's daughter, Laura Newton. The team has two days before the media reports her missing from her classes at Harvard. They begin by investigating one of her philandering professors and her boyfriend, whom she fought with. Their argument drove her to a bar where girls are recruited as prostitutes, and they follow a middleman to a bordello that funnels some of the girls to an international sex slavery ring. The madam sends them to a pay phone, which leads Scott and Curtis to a beach house. Scott tries to bluff his way past one man in the house, but a second man approaches armed, forcing Scott and Curtis to kill the men in self-defense before they can learn anything more.
Calls placed to the pay phone are traced back to Tariq Asani, a Lebanese national in a federal prison. Scott agrees to do whatever it takes to get the girl back, and under orders from Robert Burch, the head of the investigation, they plan to stage a robbery to intercept Asani during a prisoner transport to a medical facility. At a gas station en route Scott appears to kill the transport guard then kills the other inmate (who was on death row) but spares Asani when he says he can get them on a plane out of the country that night. Then Asani offers Scott a girl, as thanks for his help, and with a little digging from Scott confirms the sex slavery ring is based in Dubai. Scott stops at a convenience store to relay the information to the team and gets ammunition from Curtis, but when Curtis turns to get more ammunition from another member of the team Asani sees his badge and opens fire from the parking lot. Curtis is wounded and Scott kills Asani.
As the team prepares a stealthy assault on the ring's base in Dubai, a news broadcast reports that Laura and her college professor were discovered drowned while sailing off the coast of Martha's Vineyard and consequently, the rescue operation is called off. Scott returns home, but Curtis finds him and persuades him that she couldn't have been killed in the boating accident because he found an earring on the porch of the boathouse identical to the ones she is wearing in a photograph. When Scott and Curtis return to the beach house to investigate, Curtis is killed by a sniper on a nearby boat, and Scott finds Laura's unique "sign" in a window in the boathouse, indicating she was there. Scott escapes and tries to contact Laura's mother with the evidence, but is prevented by a Secret Service agent. When he shows her the earring, the agent explains that for years the President has used his visits to his daughter as a cover for extramarital affairs, and he pulled Laura's Secret Service detail to use as extra protection for himself during the trip. The agent pleads with Scott to rescue Laura, telling him that she's been Laura's real mother, because her parents are purely political animals who agreed to fake Laura's death rather than deal with the fallout from the public learning the truth. As evidence, the agent gives Scott a set of photo-booth photographs of herself with Laura as a child. Scott enlists Sgt. Black to help him rescue Laura from Dubai, and, cut off from his team, turns to Avi, a former Israeli operative now working in the private sector. Avi agrees to get Scott into Dubai and get Laura out concealed in a cargo container, obtaining weapons for him and support from a man named "Jones", an Australian mercenary.
Jones is killed during the rescue but Scott flees with Laura to a safe house, where he persuades her that although he is alone he is acting under orders: "One riot, one ranger." Correctly guessing that his mission lacks official support, she says that king Leonidas of Sparta would respond to requests for help from neighboring kingdoms by sending one man, and decides to trust him. When he takes Laura to the airport to seal her in the cargo container, he discovers he is being tracked when he finds a transmitter in his knife. He rushes her out of the container just as his old team arrives to apprehend them.
Scott is shot and separated from Laura, who is captured and bustled off toward a plane. Scott is pursued by Stoddard, who reveals that Laura could have lived in slavery but will be killed to maintain the cover story. When Laura fights her captor she reveals herself as Sgt. Black, and shows her the photos from the Secret Service agent (her 'real' mother), convincing her to stop struggling. A Swedish news crew witnesses the struggle as they are about to board their plane, and Sgt. Black delivers Laura to their jet just as she is shot by Stoddard. The journalists recognize Laura and get her safely aboard, and Scott slits Stoddard's throat just as the jet takes off.
Afterwards, from a city street, Scott sees a news broadcaster on television in a shop window saying Laura's death was a faked as a cover for her rescue. Burch spins the story of Laura's kidnapping as an opportunity for the President, and the U.S. Government, to take action to end the trafficking of American girls as sex slaves. Scott smiles as the man watching beside him mumbles that it's time to go home, and he walks away, with the rumble of a London double-decker behind him.
- Val Kilmer as "Bobby Scott"
- Derek Luke as Curtis
- Tia Texada as Sergeant Jackie Black
- Kristen Bell as Laura Newton
- Johnny Messner as Grace
- Ed O'Neill as Robert Burch
- William H. Macy as Stoddard
- Clark Gregg as Miller
- Natalia Nogulich as Nadya Tellich
- Moshe Ivgy as Avi
- Kick Gurry as "Jones"
Origin of title 
Spartan's title makes multiple allusions:
- King Leonidas I, of Sparta, is said to have sent one soldier when a neighboring state requested military aid.
- As Scott says, "One riot, one Ranger". Previously, Mamet used that dialogue in House of Games; and it has subsequently been used in The Unit. The remark is said to be Texas Rangers lore.
- The film's minimalist style, from the characters' clipped dialogue; to its music (violin and, later, bagpipes, used sparingly); to Mamet's efficient resolution of a plot line that frequently (and intentionally) threatens to become unwieldy.
- The recurring use of dialogue reinforcing the basic story line -- "Where is the girl?", "I'm here to get the girl back", "Is she safe?", etc. -- intended to emphasize the minimalist narrative style that the film's title evokes.
- The automatic knife used in the film is "The Spartan" by Severtech and was designed for this film.
The Dubai locales were filmed in Los Angeles, California. Eric L. Haney, a retired U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major who operated in Delta Force, was the technical advisor, and briefly appears. After Spartan, he and Mamet created The Unit television series about an Army unit mirroring Delta Force. Alexandra Kerry, daughter of U.S. senator, John Kerry, is a bartender in the film. David Mamet's Rabbi, Mordechai Finley, appears as one of the training cadre.
Spartan received mixed but generally good reviews and has a score of 64% on Rotten Tomatoes and 60% on Metacritic. Roger Ebert in The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a four-star rating saying that "The particular pleasure of 'Spartan' is to watch the characters gradually define themselves and the plot gradually emerge like your face in a steamy mirror." Tim Robey in The Daily Telegraph felt the film was let down by a "botched" finale, "as though Mamet felt obliged to reproduce a standard-issue Tom Clancy climax while knowing that this wasn't the way to go."
- Riley, Aaron (2004). "Severtech Knives Proudly Announces "The Spartan"". Retrieved 2008-08-01.
- /20040312/REVIEWS/403120305/1023 Spartan Film Review by Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (online), 12 March, 2004
- /arts/2004/08/06/bfspart06.xml House of cards tumbles down by Tim Robey, The Daily Telegraph (online), 6 August, 2004