The Spanish Prisoner


Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
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  1. Reviewed by: Michael Sragow
    Writer-director David Mamet delights in his own supposed cleverness; he wants you to scratch your head while he manipulates your brain.
  2. The movie's surface of bright, brittle patter, initially off-putting, comes finally to serve as camouflage for the sinister movement of large and powerful forces.
  3. 60
    This is the fifth movie to be written and directed by David Mamet, and it's his most bizarre one yet; people speak in that dreamy, lockjawed manner we first heard in "House of Games," and their entire lives appear to be lived under the spell of some nameless paranoia.
  4. 50
    The picture is moderately diverting. But it's never much fun.
  5. The story of an elaborate con game and the wholesale betrayal of an innocent man, it's also an unusually cold film that ends with a feeling of hollow soullessness.
  6. The Spanish Prisoner seems an almost purely theoretical exercise, with Mamet as the con man whose sole goal is to make us believe anything he wants.
  7. 50
    The story works, in that everything fits together, but the film feels hollow and unfinished, like a run-through for a movie rather than the movie itself.

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