May 2008 28

David Mamet’s latest is a crafty, quick paced, piece of cinema, constantly keeping you on your toes while successfully creating one of the best original heroes we have seen in a film in a while. Mike Terry is an ex-military man that has extensive training in martial arts who bides his day to day life teaching his students, while struggling to get bye, but never sacrificing his honor. Terry’s friend and student Joe is a cop struggling financially to get bye, even after Mike hooked him up at his wife’s brother’s club. Mike’s wife, Sondra, is struggling as well with her own business, a textile/fashion design company that imports cloth from Brazil. The two’s financial pit falls hit a serious kink when a lawyer accidentally discharges Joe’s gun which takes out the front window when she is frightened by him as he tries to console her after a near accident in the rain.
Outside this random chance crossing of these three characters, the movie then begins to follow a series of interconnected events that lead to one circumstance after another beginning to take both positive and negative effects on these characters lives. To spoil the plot of a David Mamet film would be criminal in it’s own right so I will stop there, but know the plot takes many a twists and turns and is full of plenty of surprise; also avoid the trailer at all costs on this one, as it is very spoilerish.
The acting in this film is quality all around. The sleazy come across as sleazy, Ricky Jay as the seedy promoter, Rodrigo Santoro as Sondra’s brother and club owner, and Joe Mantegna as the super sleazy agent of Chet Frank. Chet Frank is a celebrity played by Tim Allen that crosses Mike’s path, and Allen does a good job as the down and out actor going through the motions. Alice Braga plays Mike’s sexy wife that seems a little to out for her own good. Emily Mortimer also continues a solid streak of quality turns by her, and is a real joy as the medicated and scattered lawyer Laura Black that gets wrapped up in the proceedings. But, the real stand out is Chiwetel Ejiofor who continues his string of stellar roles with the ultimate selfless hero Mike Terry. Ejiofor is suave, proud, and confident throughout the film as he works his way through the ups and downs of the film while also being a commanding presence in the physical aspects of the role as well. Ejiofor’s Mike Terry is worth the price of admission alone in his fantastic turn in the lead.
In the end, Redbelt is a solid thriller of sorts with a great lead and wonderful central character. All of the actors turn in solid performances and Mamet creates a quick and interesting film that never really lets you go. Ejiofor would be worth seeing if this film was terrible, luckily it succeeds on most every level, and is a solid piece that is definitely worth your time.


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