Some may not believe it, but Steve Martin doesn't tell a joke in the entire movie. And many may not have heard of it, but The Spanish Prisoner is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time, whether at theaters or on video.
The amazing thing about The Spanish Prisoner is that it is a relatively slow-paced movie, yet it is never boring; it actually is quite exciting from beginning to end, as long as you know what type of movie it is. It is a mystery, not unlike The Game (the posters for both movies feature puzzle pieces), and it is about a man who unknowingly falls into a conspiracy. Really, not a whole lot happens in terms of plot developments until about halfway through the movie, but from minute one you can tell things are taking place that are going to end up coming back to bite the main character, played by Campbell Scott, in the butt. Every suspicious thing that takes place in the first half of the movie is most likely something, and that makes it all the more exciting as you look forward to what is going to happen.
In a way, The Spanish Prisoner is predictable, but not in the same way as a poorly written movie. It is only predictable because you cannot take anything at face value, even though Scott does. Even if you see something coming before the main character does, it is still suspenseful to see how he is going to succeed at the end, if he does indeed succeed.
My only annoyance is that Scott's character is a little too trustworthy. While it is obvious from the audience's perspective, he doesn't see it and trusts people. At one point in time, he finds his friend dead and leaves his glasses there, as well as his fingerprints, and then goes around riding on the subway with bloody hands; aren't there bathrooms in the subway system?
I also thought Rebecca Pidgeon's character, for the first half of the movie, was pretty annoying. Of course, she was also annoying in State and Main, so maybe it's just her.
Either way, The Spanish Prisoner has enough twists and turns to satisfy any mystery lover. It is a great suspense film, and I recommend it to anyone.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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