Reviewer's grade: C+
Writer/director David Mamet ("Spartan," "Heist," "State and Main"). casts Chiwetel Ejiofor ("American Gangster," "Children of Men") as the owner of a judo dojo in Chicago who gets involved with a cynical movie star (Tim Allen, "Wild Hogs"), a loan shark (David Paymer), an emotionally distraught lawyer (Emily Mortimer, "Lars and the Real Girl"), a crooked mixed martial arts promoter and other paving stones on the road to hell in this tale of suicide, graft, bribery, treachery, and betrayal.
Mamet, who began life as a playwright, has always given us more talk than the classic directors of whom he reminds us by his chosen themes, but this picture is his talkiest"and much of the talk is about upholding the honor of the warrior's code. It's ennobling, but in 2008 it also seems more than a little na"ve.
"Redbelt" is only mediocre Mamet, but that puts it ahead of most contemporary movies. Better to sit through three screenings of this than 10 minutes of the godawful "Speed Racer." R