The Negotiator

Film , Thrillers
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(1 user review)
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Originally developed as a star vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, this mutated into a hybrid action-drama featuring the choreographed pyrotechnics of director Gray and a battle of words between contrasting hostage negotiators Jackson and Spacey. It scores on both counts, though the dovetailing of the explosive action and the verbal fireworks is not always as snug as it might be. Falsely accused of murder and embezzlement, Danny Roman (Jackson) buys time by taking hostage Commander Frost (Rifkin), head of the Chicago police's Internal Affairs Division, together with his administrative staff and an unlucky bystander. Suspecting an inside job, Roman demands that he deal with Chris Sabian (Spacey), a stranger from another district and reputedly the second best hostage negotiator in the city. Roman knows exactly how to manipulate the situation to his advantage, but his instinctive, improvisational approach is matched by Sabian's shrewd use of psychology and manipulative mind games. The draw for Spacey and Jackson fans is the chance to see two consummate actors engage in a subtle war of words, but for too much of the film they're either at separate ends of a telephone, or simply divided from one another by the plot logistics and action scenes.

Release details

Duration: 139 mins

Cast and crew

Director: F Gary Gray
Screenwriter: James DeMonaco, Kevin Fox
Cast: Samuel L Jackson
Kevin Spacey
David Morse
Ron Rifkin
John Spencer
JT Walsh
Siobhan Fallon
2 people listening

This is a taut thriller. It stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. It didn't do well at the box office when it was released, but it has some good visual set pieces and it has excellent performances from both lead actors, who were at the peak of their powers at that time.

It feels dated because, although it was made in 1998, less than 20 years ago, almost the only women in the film are Jackson's wife and J. T.Holmes' secretary (deftly played by Siobhan Fallon Hogan). I guess, at least it shows how we have moved on in that time.

Having said that, it does what you want a thriller to do and I was involved right to the end. If you want an easy, entertaining evening in front of the TV, this will do nicely.