Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. This is his sleekest and most engaging film thus far. If you like a good cat-and-mouse game with a keen ear for language, then go.
  2. 90
    Everyone plays their role (and the roles within their roles) to perfection, and writer-director Mamet keeps us guessing what's what and who's who right up until the final minute.
  3. Reviewed by: Leonard Klady
    The picture is a devilishly clever series of reversals that keeps you guessing to the very end.
  4. 88
    The Spanish Prisoner resembles Alfred Hitchcock in the way that everything takes place in full view, on sunny beaches and in brightly lit rooms, with attractive people smilingly pulling the rug out from under the hero and revealing the abyss.
  5. A thriller so tricky that figuring it out is half the fun.
  6. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    It's a treat to encounter the deadpan light-handedness with which Mamet goes about his business.
  7. 83
    For once, too, David Mamet the director outshines David Mamet the writer.
  8. Pure David Mamet is an acquired, but delicious, taste.
  9. The weird thing about the films David Mamet has directed is that they have about as much emotion as a cyborg in a science fiction movie, yet by the end of the picture it isn't necessary; by then the audience has supplied their own.
  10. 75
    The Spanish Prisoner is for anyone who likes to think and feel along with the characters.
  11. Mamet's stylized dialogue, elaborate plot puzzles and the angry cleverness of his characterization makes for an invigorating, if not exactly likeable, mix.
  12. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Mamet has to learn to trust the camera more than he does; he has to stop trying to control everything with language; he has to let loose a little and just give in to the fluency, the ease, the free-flowing pleasure of making a movie.
  13. The Spanish Prisoner is the smoothest and most convincing of Mamet's elaborate charades and features intriguing performances by Steve Martin and Campbell Scott.
  14. This is fun if you're looking mainly for light entertainment.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 50
    The picture is moderately diverting. But it's never much fun.

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