The Negotiator (1998)

The Negotiator is a thriller from a few years ago (ok, it's almost a decade, but it really doesn't feel like that long). It stars Kevin Spacey, Samuel Jackson, and David Morsein in a cop style drama.

The film is based around Lt. Danny Roman, ably acted by Samuel Jackson who is a police hostage negotiator in Chicago. The film opens with a sequence that shows him at the top of his game, intervening to save lives from bullets. Next, his partner confides in him about some missing money in a pension fund, and the plan is to look into it. Unfortunately, especially for the partner, he turns up dead shortly thereafter. In a textbook frameup, all of the evidence quickly starts to pile up that makes Jackson look guilty with a capital "G." In an act of desperation, Jackson takes key members of the police hostage in a spontaneous moment, and walls up in the police headquarters. In other words, the hostage negotiator becomes the hostage taker. Jackson decides he only wants to deal with one other negotiator- Sabian, played by Kevin Spacey. Perhaps it is because he has a reputation for long, drawn out (we're talking 55 hours) negotiations, or maybe there is another reason...

I really enjoyed this film. There's plenty of action that runs at breakneck speed until the very end, but it is also well balanced with a hefty helping of drama that glues the whole thing together. It is a little lengthy at 2:20, but the time was worth it. This is one of those "one man vs the world" plots that makes you cheer for the underdog. The acting is well done, and this is one of Jackson's (pre Snakes On A Plane) and Spacey's better films. If you missed The Negotiator the first time around (like I did, and the 2nd time too), it is worth seeking out on DVD.

Overall Grade: A-


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