Frank Miller’s Latest: 300 Blows

King Leonidas of the Spartans (Gerard Butler) and his men kill several Persian messengers by throwing them into a huge stone pit in the center of town.

They are killed for “threatening Sparta” and “insulting [Leonidas’] wife.” He then spends the rest of the movie rattling on about freedom and justice and other Greek values of democracy that he claims to protect, but dares not practice.

Overtones of suspension of habeas corpus, Guantanamo Bay and the Patriot Act abound in the rousing speeches he gives to his men.

About 25 minutes into watching this film, I realized that it is, intentionally or unintentionally, socially wrong.

It is a modern day “Gone with the Wind” or “Birth of a Nation,” and has one resounding message: Be afraid. Be very afraid of the East; of Islam; of Iran.

The Persians in the film are faceless. Literally covered like the faces of Jihads on the cover of Time Magazine, there are millions of them and they are all freedom haters exotic, hedonistic and oversexed all myths of Asia and Africa going back to Marco Polo and the Arabian Knights.

The Spartans, on the other hand, are completely recognizable and sparse. To the question of why these 300 men are going to fight the Persians, you continually expect Leonidas to answer, “Because they hate freedom.” His lines could have been rewritten with sound clips taken from Bush’s speeches.

In the beginning of the film, he refers to the Athenians as “boy loving” and “philosophers,” whereas the Spartans are men of action, real men.

Is this not the rhetoric of neoconservatives against their liberal brethren? Are not the Athenians New York Times reading, Volvo driving, latte drinking peaceniks?

Visually stunning, the film is horribly written and horribly acted, and steals from almost every big action film in the past 10 years, which denies it the originality enjoyed by fans of “Sin City.”