The Spanish Prisoner (1997)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Spanish Prisoner</strong> (1997)

(In theaters, May 1998) After the usual “fun but dumb” thrill left by most movies, it’s refreshing to see a movie that let you use your mind at full gear throughout its running time. Unfortunately, The Spanish Prisoner isn’t half as smart as it would want us to believe… but we almost have to feel grateful for the attempt. This multiple-twists story is about an inventor who suddenly finds his life much more “interesting” after he invents a substantially profitable industrial process. He make friends, who might or might not be friends, and his company now might or might not want to give him full recognition. But don’t worry; as in The Usual Suspects, everything you think you know is wrong. The problem with tightly-plotted movies of this type is that they run the very real risk of being too complicated for their own good. And that’s exactly the problem of The Spanish Prisoner: Upon careful examination, several parts of the intricately crafted plot fall apart. Simply put, the chain of event in the movie could only have happened in a movie. Characters have to make dumb decisions, and commit even dumber acts. The movie simply rings false, an impression compounded by the unlikely dialogue. And of course, once you finally realize that this is the kind of twisty-turvy movie where no one is who s/he appears to be, you can safely predict the course of the plot by using inverse logic. Still, the acting’s good (especially Steve Martin, if you can believe it), the plot is entertaining and even though the plot is in its own way as preposterous as Godzilla‘s, at least it’s an intellectually ambitious failure. Definitely worth a video rental.

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