Posted May 1, 2008 in Film

David Mamet must have gotten roundhouse kicked in the head to think there was a story worth telling in his latest macho faceoff. Martial artist Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is good good good. Everyone else in LA is rotten. His wife (Alice Braga) wants more than his impecunious principles, his newest student (Emily Mortimer) smashed in his window, and he can’t grab a drink without stepping into a bar fight. His jiu-jitsu master’s teachings have even been co-opted by a pay-per-view prize-fighting league. This is Hollywood by way of Hades; everyone has a price but Mike. Which makes him automatically the most boring person in the film. They’re crooked and full of surprises—even Tim Allen as a movie star whose casting is Mamet’s only imaginative stroke. But Mike’s going to Do The Right Thing and we could care less. At 60-years-old, Mamet’s gone sentimental. The viperous social satirist who never saw a conscience he couldn’t deflate now hoists his leading man up as a Norman Rockwell American, as perfect as a new penny and just as flat. For spice, Mike gets slapped down physically and verbally in scenes where we’re expecting hugs and redemption, but by the end, we’d happily kick him in the nuts ourself if he’d stop going all Jesus on us (and if he wouldn’t, like, totally kick our ass). (Amy Nicholson)



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