The Negotiator (1998) / Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for language
Running Time: 157 min.
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer
Director: F. Gary Gray
Screenplay: James DeMonaco, Kevin Fox
Review published January 29, 1999
A locally famous Chicago hostage negotiator (Jackson, Sphere) gets framed in the murder of his partner, then panics and takes hostages of his own in order to buy himself time to solve his case and clear his name. Due to a rumor of corruption within his own department, he chooses another successful negotiator (Spacey, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) from across town to negotiate with him. Tension mounts between this new negotiator and the police, because there are a few in the police who want a tragic conclusion to it all before they are found out as part of the conspiracy.
Riveting and tense from beginning to end. Jackson and Spacey put on an acting clinic in this edge-of-your seat thriller, which with a little tightening up of plot holes, could have been excellent. Still quite good, with director Gray (A Man Apart, The Italian Job) showing a compelling style and nail-biting tension. The premise is intriguing, even if far-fetched, and it's very intense up until the unsatisfying end.
©1999 Vince Leo