READER: Didja see the film?
CRITIC: Saw the film.
READER: You saw the film?
CRITIC: Saw the film.
READER: Cuz I heard ya gotta see the film.
CRITIC: Definitely seeable.
CRITIC: Pretty damn. Not great. Not great. Pretty damn–
READER: Cuz I heard it’s very–
CRITIC: Definitely Mamet. The title?
CRITIC: Dialogue. Crisp–
CRITIC: Crisp. Cool. Minimal. Spartan.
CRITIC: Mamet: Frustrating, sometimes. Don’t hate ‘im. Don’t love ‘im. Annoys me. Inspires me.
READER: Original stuff.
CRITIC: Original stuff, sure. Experimental.
CRITIC: Experimental. An experimental action movie.
CRITIC: Action. President’s daughter: kidnapped. Taken.
CRITIC: Taken. They took her.
READER: Took her?
CRITIC: Took her. Gotta find her.
READER: Gotta find the girl.
CRITIC: Find the girl. Find the girl.
CRITIC: Secret. Army? Rangers? Dunno. Mamet keeps it close. Lots of camou and sleek guns.
CRITIC: Sleek. Like the film.
READER: They took?
CRITIC: No, they find.
READER: Who took?
CRITIC: Who took? White slavers.
READER: White slavers?
CRITIC: White slavers. Arab. Bad guys du jour.
CRITIC: Arab. Sex slaves.
CRITIC: Exactly. Loves those edges where women are–
READER: Not that it doesn’t happen…
CRITIC: Sure. Happens all the time, probably. But–
CRITIC: And not just–
CRITIC: Slavers. Conspiracies. Everybody’s–
CRITIC: Nefarious. Up to no good. Hard to like.
READER: Even the good guys?
CRITIC: Even the good guys.
CRITIC: Val. Prickly. Always liked him. Smart actor. Never took the easy road.
READER: Army Ranger and sleek gun?
CRITIC: Maybe Marine? That’s him. Don’t get to know him. A machine.
READER: A soldier.
CRITIC: Ultimate soldier. Barely human. And yet–
CRITIC: Kilmer’s compelling. Intense.
CRITIC: Stuff going on in his head we never know about…
CRITIC: And Kilmer makes this machine of a soldier–
READER: But not likeable?
CRITIC: Not likeable. Not your basic popcorn hero.
READER: Not that that’s bad.
CRITIC: Not that that’s bad.
READER: Anyone else?
CRITIC: William. Ed O’Neill. Shady government types. Can’t trust ’em. Can’t trust anyone.
READER: Can’t trust anyone.
CRITIC: Coulda done with a bit more on them. Why? Who? How?
READER: Mysterious. Nefarious.
CRITIC: Mysterious. Nefarious. Maybe preposterous. Maybe just underdeveloped.
READER: And that kid?
CRITIC: Derek Luke.
READER: Antwone Fisher.
CRITIC: Antwone Fisher. New guy. Working with Val. Neophyte. Screws up.
READER: Screws up?
CRITIC: Screws up so bad it’s almost–
CRITIC: Preposterous. And yet…
READER: Still something there.
CRITIC: Something there.
CRITIC: Edginess, but not just. Change of pace.
READER: Change of pace. For?
CRITIC: For everyone tired of same-old action.
READER: Bruckheimer. Bay. McG.
CRITIC: The anti-Mamets.
READER: The anti-Mamets.
CRITIC: So I’ll take some frustration and some annoyance–
READER: In return for–
CRITIC: Unpredictability. Challenge.
READER: Challenging action flick. Not for everyone.
CRITIC: Not for everyone. And–
CRITIC: Hot-button stuff. Itchy. Sticky.
READER: Hot-button stuff?
CRITIC: Hot-button stuff. Makes ya uncomfortable. Touches some nerves.
READER: Touches some nerves?
CRITIC: Terrorism. Government coverups. Corruption.
CRITIC: Corruption. Can’t trust anyone. Maybe not Kilmer. Maybe not Luke. Maybe not Mamet.
READER: And that’s good?
CRITIC: That’s good. Someone’s dealing with today’s–
CRITIC: Paranoia. Unease. Helplessness. And in a way that’s not–
CRITIC: Easy. Pat. Happy-ending.
READER: It’s real.
CRITIC: Real. Even if it is preposterous.