Reviewed by: Brian Nigro
Starring: Campbell Scott, Rebecca Pidgeon, Steve Martin, Ben Gazzara / Director: David Mamet / Released by: Sony Pictures Classic
Here’s a quality recommendation for Christian audiences: “The Spanish Prisoner”. This is intelligent, engaging filmmaking with little profanity (about four instances), very little violence, and only minimal innuendo.
“The Spanish Prisoner” stars Campbell Scott as Joseph Scott, a young urban professional who’s about to sell his “Process” (as it’s known) to a nameless corporation. In the Carribean to ink the deal with the stockholders, he meets a shadowy—and shady—figure named Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin, in a serious role), who talks himself into Joe’s business and asks him to deliver a package to his sister once he gets back to New York. Continuous affiliations get Joseph deeper and deeper.
If “The Spanish Prisoner” were made with a Hollywood budget (perish that thought), it would star Michael Douglas. Come to think of it, Michael Douglas already made a derivative of this movie last year—actually, of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Northwest by Northwest”, to be specific about it—in “The Game.” And he’s also in the upcoming “Dial M For Murder” remake, the R-rated “A Perfect Murder”. So, that’s probably the best way to describe this to those who haven’t heard of it. The plot dynamic isn’t much different than those contemporary Hitchcock retreads, though “The Spanish Prisoner” is much more well-written and photographed.
So much of this movie cannot be described without spoiling it; here’s a rare piece of work that unravels like a ball of yarn. Suffice to say, keep an eye on Rebecca Pidgeon’s character who figures big time into this story.
Director David Mamet is one the great American screenwriters, and one can only hope “The Spanish Prisoner” finds the right audience (it’s being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics in limited release, so look for it on video if not in theatres.) Rated PG for tense situations and minor innuendo, this is easily one of the best movies of the year. Highly recommended for discerning Christian audiences.