Directed by David Mamet (R)
A martial-arts teacher tries to retain his honorable ideals.
A fight movie by David Mamet? “It sounds like a jarring combination at first,” said Christy Lemire in the Associated Press. But Mamet and martial arts aren’t as incompatible as one would think. The filmmaker and playwright has always been preoccupied by masculinity and its public manifestations—here the writer’s verbal sparring matches have now become literal ones. In fact, the setting gives his philosophical wit a much-needed narrative spine, said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. By fastening his restless artistic invention to a conventional (albeit twisty) story arc, Mamet comes up with a “satisfying, unexpectedly involving B movie.” Mamet knows how to pick the right actors to make his distinctive dialogue work, said Kyle Smith in the New York Post. Chiwetel Ejiofor is terrific as Redbelt’s upstanding hero, while Emily Mortimer’s so good in her few scenes that you wish she had a few more. “This isn’t Mamet at his best, though, which leaves us with a script that is merely three times as smart as the average feature.”