Re-Watching: Spartan

David Mamet writes and directs Spartan, a neo noir from 2004. I have not seen this movie since it came out on DVD 11 years ago. I decided to revisit it after watching Mamet’s Homicide(which I reviewed earlier on this site and loved!) This is not your typical noir story. The story revolves around Scott, a military man played by Val Kilmer. He is a top-notch soldier with a high level skill set.

The story starts with the Presidents daughter played by Kristen Bell, being kidnapped. The trail soon leads to a white slavery ring, taking girls from America to the middle east. Scott and the team are hot on the trail when the story breaks of the first daughter being found dead alongside her college professor in a boating accident. Getting to this point has a lot of classic undercover and spy plot lines and is entertaining. The really good noir plot lines start after Scott gets a visit from a fellow soldier played by Derek Luke. He feels that the President’s daughter isn’t really dead. This theory gets Scott thinking and the two start looking back at some of the clues. When his partner is shoot dead by a sniper the plot really thickens and gets interesting.

We have a lot of great appearances in this film, like Mamet regular William H. Macy as well as Ed O’Neill and Clark Gregg. Tia Texada is another stand out as a female soldier.

Mamet does it again with this mix of noir and international intrigue. It is well written and filmed by one of the best. Though this may not be Mamet’s best work it is certainly worth a look. I can’t help seeing the similarities in plot with mega hit Taken that came out 4 years later. The tone and pacing of the two films are very different, but would make an interesting double feature to watch on a lazy afternoon.

Favorite Tidbit: Alexandra Kerry makes a small appearance as a bartender in this film. Her father John Kerry was running for President at the time this film was released. An interesting parallel to the film about a President running for re-election and his daughter.

Review: The First Two Veronica Mars Books: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr Kiss and Tell

Veronica Mars - The Thousand Dollar Tan Line21437200

Ok I admit it, I’m a Marshmallow, and if you’re a noir fan and have not become a Marshmallow, you should give Veronica Mars a try.  Veronica Mars is a unique character with a unique media formula.  Veronica started as a TV show starring Kristen Bell on the UPN and eventually on the CW and soon grow a cult following.  It was critically well received and had a rabid fan base.  It’s following has award it many accolades through the next ten years including Empire Magazine’s 48th best TV show of all time.  Though all of this helped, its low ratings got it cancelled after 3 seasons.  10 years after it all started came a kickstart campaign to make a movie and they raised more money then they ever hoped to.  Honestly this is where I became interested.  I started watching the TV series with Netflix DVD service and was hooked, watching as mainly episodes as I could as fast as I could.   Then I was able to check out the movie and was excited for the first book.  This review is for the first two books and I hope to come back and re-watch the TV series and movie for a deeper review later. If your new to Mars investigation I highly recommend that you start at the beginning and watch the TV series first.

These books are both written by Rob Thomas the creator of Veronica and co written by Jennifer Graham and they seem to be a great duo, keeping the Mars story going.

The first book: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line starts right after the movie and continues with all our favorite characters.  It’s Spring Break in Neptune and a couple of girls are kidnaped, Veronica is on the case, and we are reintroduced to a character we haven’t seen in a while.  This reads like your watching Veronica, you can hear the voices of the characters, you can  hear the tone and deflection, their sarcasm and their emotions.  It flows very well and you can see the locations from the previous work in your head when they pop up in the book.

The second book:  Mr. Kiss and Tell starts us out in Neptune but we travel to a new college campus, Seattle and Las Vegas, this is more travelling then we normal see.  We get to know another character from the past that we may have forgotten about, but soon remember her sad story that turns into a nightmare in this book.  Though Veronica is hired by the Neptune Grand to clear there wrong doing in a violent attack,Veronica can’t work just for the big company with the money but soon sides with the victim to find her attacker.

Veronica Mars is a unique series, since it has crossed 3 media sources and has stayed true to the characters and one of the reasons this is, is Rob Thomas has had control of his creation from the start.  So with Rob’s new show iZombie coming, is this the end of Mars Investigation?  Well we may have a to wait a bit but it doesn’t sound like it:

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for some new books, but a TV mini series would be awesome!

If your like me and thought 10 years ago Veronica Mars looks like Nancy Drew in a Beverly Hills 90210 setting, your wrong!  Veronica definitely explores some of the darkest themes I’ve ever seen on network TV and waited 10 years to long to discover this.