David Mamet returns to the director's chair with "The Spanish
Prisoner," a light Hitchcockian thriller reminiscent of his
devilishly fun "House of Games." Campbell Scott stars as a Joe, a
businessman who has made an amazing breakthrough (we're never told
exactly what) that will earn his company major prestige and profits.
Joe begins to worry, however, when he learns that he will see little
of the rewards, a concern that is compounded when he meets a wealthy
and charismatic stranger named Jimmy (Steve Martin), who encourages
Joe to seek his "just desserts." But the all-too-trusting protagonist
soon learns that nobody is quite what they seem in Mamet's chaotic
world of greed and deception, a mix that makes for an amusingly
suspenseful story. With his innocent yet suave good-guy demeanor,
Scott is particularly effective filling the Cary Grant role. As
usual, Mamet crafts dialogue that is both rhythmic and realistic, but
his real achievment comes with the storyline, which is neither too
complex to outwit nor too obvious to patronize the audience. "The
Spanish Prisoner" is a fun and well conceived thriller that should
please a broad audience.
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