Film Scouts Reviews

"The Spanish Prisoner"

by Richard Schwartz

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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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