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.