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The Negotiator
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Negotiator More at IMDbPro »

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75 out of 87 people found the following review useful:

An intelligent, taut thriller

Author: Arthur-23 from Vancouver, Canada
11 May 2002

Just when you think he's cornered, he thinks of a new strategy. Samuel L. Jackson portrays Lieutenant Danny Roman, police hostage negotiator. When he's framed for a crime he didn't commit, against his fellow police officers no less, he knows that the only way out is to bring in an equally tough negotiator, Lieutenant Chris Sabian played by Kevin Spacey, who's from another precinct and who therefore could not have been contaminated by the bad elements within his own force, which buys him the necessary time to bluff and blindside while he finds the clues he needs to prove he's innocent. Chicago is taken hostage along with the few people he retains as bargaining chips, and we are taken along for the ride. This was a masterful job of film-making from beginning to end. The characters and story were flawlessly developed. We don't precisely know who's guilty or who's innocent. Roman conducts his interrogation and trial while he negotiates with the police outside, some of whom are working overtime to eliminate Roman before he figures it all out. This all occurs right under the noses of the FBI who are in way over their heads and don't have a clue who's guilty or innocent, just like the rest of us watching. Along the way, we get to witness Roman lecture his underlings about the finer points of negotiations while he himself has just become a hostage taker. "Never say no!" he barks with effective zeal. And he tests his bewildered pupils continuously, who fail continuously. Only Sabian is smart enough to understand what's going on in Roman's mind. The strategy is shared by two men who think alike, who are under stress, and have an innate instinct for lie detection. The screenplay was terrific. The cinematography was effective. The acting of Jackson and Spacey exceptional. And the supporting cast, particularly bad-guy-turned-good-guy Paul Giamatti who provides great comic relief, was outstanding. If you're in the mood for an intelligent, taut thriller, The Negotiator delivers... 9/10.

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74 out of 93 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic Film

10/10
Author: brinsleyb from United Kingdom
23 January 2005

Anyone who says this film is not good must be crazy! The Negotiator has the complete package intelligence, love, anger,comedy,suspense and action. An absolute terrific film which as well as having all the characteristics to make a classic, it has the cast to match. Samuel L Jackson at his best playing the role as Danny Roman, a negotiator with nothing to lose but all to prove. Kevin Spacey shows a strong side of his acting ability and is terrific in the role of Chris Sabien, another negotiator who has the sole interest of getting the truth!. The film is full of so many twists and turns that makes it one of the best thrillers ever!!! GUARANTEE...THIS FILM WILL NOT DISAPPOINT!!!

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50 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Strong, Intelligent movie-making

9/10
Author: Greg Shaffer (gdshaffe@mtu.edu) from Midland, Michigan
8 August 1998

The Negotiator presents us with both of two things in a summer full of flicks only containing one or the other: ambition AND intelligence. It doesn't have any qualms with taking a far-fetched concept and treating it with absolute seriousness, but unlike most movies that are willing to do this (especially some recent ones involving very large asteroids and very large lizards), it is able to pull it off by combining a tight script with strong, strong acting.

If this were a perfect world, Jackson would deserve an Oscar nomination for his performance here. There's no way on Earth he'll get it, of course, but he's given the difficult role here of playing a guy who has to convince the guys downstairs that he's a psycho, while convincing the guys he's kidnapped that he's innocent, and he does a flawless job of it. No easy task, especially when you consider the fact that he's got to throw in the occasional gunfight. At least he'll probably win the MTV award :)

What results is a skillfully made film. I enjoyed it. It made sense but kept me guessing, the action was intense but still followed logical patterns, and the ending was not a disappointment. An altogether fun experience.

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32 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Conventional siege thriller, made better than expected by its actors.

7/10
Author: Jonathon Dabell (barnaby.rudge@hotmail.co.uk) from Todmorden, England
5 September 2004

In terms of plot and story development, The Negotiator offers little that is new. It's a very conventional film. However, it gets a much needed injection from its cast, especially the two leads Jackson and Spacey, whose verbal exchanges are exciting and dynamic.

The far-fetched yarn introduces us to Chicago hostage negotiator Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson). Roman's partner Nate (Paul Guilfoyle) is brutally murdered just as he is about to expose a bunch of cops who have been stealing from the Disability Fund. All the clues at the scene of Nate's murder point to Roman being the guilty one. Danny is arrested for the killing, but he remains determined to prove his innocence. He violently besieges the Internal Affairs division of the Chicago P.D, taking several hostages at gunpoint, and proceeds to demand that his name be cleared. Hostage negotiator Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey) arrives on the scene to talk Roman into surrendering his hostages.

The ease with which Jackson's character is framed for a crime he didn't commit is hard to believe, and his subsequent decision to take hostages in order to clear himself stretches credibility to the limit. The solution to the mystery - with the revelation of the real killer coming right at the end - isn't especially believable either. However, improbabilities aside, The Negotiator is an entertaining work. As mentioned, Jackson and Spacey's confrontations are quite dynamic and help to make the film compulsively watchable. Siege thrillers by their very definition are exciting, and this one is no exception. Granted, The Negotiator is totally conventional fare, but within its limitations it remains a well-crafted, absorbing and agreeable offering.

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

somewhat familiar setup made worthwhile by an excellent cast

Author: Special-K88
15 February 2002

Lieutenant Danny Roman, just married and quickly becoming recognized as one of Chicago's top hostage negotiators, has his life turned upside down when he's framed for the murder of his partner and embezzlement of his department's pension fund. With the evidence piling up against him and unsure of who he can trust, he resorts to desperate means by taking hostages himself and acquiring the services of unknown but equally skilled negotiator Chris Sabian in order to clear his name. Sharp, intelligent thriller should be your run-of-the-mill cop flick, but its plot twists are so convincing, its police procedures so realistic, and its acted with such great conviction that you don't want to miss a single moment of it! Jackson and Spacey ignite the screen, but they're surrounded by a top-notch supporting cast. A great piece of work from all those involved. ***

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19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Keeps you guessing

10/10
Author: MarkEverest from United Kingdom
30 December 2006

I know very little about the movie industry, directing, producing and the like but I know when I really enjoy a movie, and I enjoyed this one so much I am making my first ever comment on a movie on this site. Having just watched this movie for the first time, I have been riveted to my seat. The twists and turns were so good even I didn't know who to trust! I was wrong about some of the cops I thought were dirty, right about others and the end took me by surprise. Although a long film, the pace of events and quality acting kept me interested from the first minute to the last one. This is probably the best thriller I have seen this year and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good thriller with a few action moments thrown in intelligently for good measure. All credit must go to Samuel L Jackson for a great performance in playing a specialist police officer who finds himself an innocent fall guy, supported very well by the late J. T. Walsh, who seemed to always play dislikable characters. Jackson makes his character an actor himself, as a psychopath to the cops he holds at bay and a careful family man to his new wife whilst slowly but surely convincing his hostages of his innocence. Similar credit for great performances go to Kevin Spacey as the neutral respected negotiator dropped into a tense situation completely blind to events, and I have yet to see a poor performance by David Morse, who followed up this film with another good performance in "The Green Mile". My work as a real police officer in England seems so ordinary and boring by comparison!

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Acting Duos...

7/10
Author: jpschapira from Argentina
10 May 2007

An honest cop is an easy target, right? Well, this is what the trailer of "The Negotiator" states, but it also states a lot of more things; some which it shouldn't state. So my first recommendation is: don't watch the trailer of this film before watching the film itself…It will make it better. Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) is a successful negotiator and, as it happens in these films, he's getting too close to something and consequences are ahead.

That's all you'll hear from me. After this main plot line, "The Negotiator" becomes a nerve- racking ride; with thrills all the way through and a very intelligent use of the general elements of the crime thriller. See, that's the thing about crime thrillers: they are always around the same kind of ideas and stories. I recently watched "Edison" and I didn't like the way it handled things; because it wanted to give an explanation to a conspiracy that was confusing and difficult to understand, sadly inside of a good script.

"The Negotiator" suffers from the same thing. However, writers James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox make it up with some beautifully written, gripping dialogue in a fantastic achievement; considering that one of them hadn't done anything before and the other had written "Jack". The screenplay of "The Negotiator" is probably what brings the rest to life.

It isn't the writers' fault but, although the cameras are well placed and F. Gary Gray's direction is accurate, everything feels a little bit like television (like in "SWAT"). I'm not saying this is a bad characteristic, because it doesn't make the film less dynamic and because the film is, as I said, intelligent; but it's ultimately disappointing. The music by Graeme Revell is one of the high points, with chilling strings that accentuate the characters' looks in the moments of tension.

These moments of tension also look like television, but we forgive it because we get some good intense looks. If "The Negotiator" is not good for everything else (which is not entirely true), it is good because of the actors (casting by David Rubin). Samuel L. Jackson is full of perfectly managed rage as Danny Roman, achieving a better performance than the ones he got in other movies where he carried guns, like "The Long Kiss Goodnight", "Rules of Engagement", even "Shaft" and definitely "SWAT".

A lot of the actors in the cast come from television or are now still on television (which may help the feeling I was talking about), like Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, Carlos Gomez, Nestor Serrano, Stephen Lee and Doug Spinuzza. They are all great, and so is the late J.T Walsh in a small role. Besides, Regina Taylor is powerful as Jackson the cold David Morse is astounding playing a kind of villain and showing he's one of the best for playing villains today; even in films like "Dreamer".

Paul Giamatti steals the show as a maniac hostage, which is a nice performance to see Giamatti before becoming the cult performer he is now. He was still good then. Siobhan Fallon is also flawless as a law-abiding secretary. But Jackson is the centre of the movie, alongside the other main character. Chris Sabian appears late in the film, but in the skin of Kevin Spacey he encounters Jackson's craziness and "The Negotiator" elevates itself into a whole different level. Spacey's facial expression and manner of talking and Jackson's unique eyes movement are just little details of their incredible performances and their chemistry.

Wonderful actors pay attention to details in movies. At least just to watch Spacey and Jackson, you can't miss "The Negotiator". It has one of the best acting duos I've seen in a long time.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Good Solid Hollywood Entertainment -- No More No Less

7/10
Author: classicalsteve from Oakland, CA
5 January 2008

"The Negotiator" is neither a deep film that might cause serious contemplation of social issues nor a radically different experimental experience. It is simply a star-studded action thriller designed to allow the audience to escape into the world of Chicago hostage squad cops. A wrongfully accused negotiator/cop, played at about 300+ degrees Fahrenheit by Samuel Jackson matches wits with another negotiator, Kevin Spacey, who does his best to keep Jackson from reaching the boiling point. Briefly, Jackson is caught in the middle of an extortion scandal involving the lifting of millions of dollars from the policeman's pension fund. When Jackson's partner becomes aware of the secret heist, he is taken out, and the powers behind the white-collar corporate dealings use Jackson as the scapegoat. Jackson then retaliates by using extra-legal means.

What makes this movie are the performances by both Jackson and Spacey, with good performances by the supporting cast, including the late J.T. Walsch who made a career of playing heartless and emotionless middle-age men. And John Spencer is also involved as the Chief of Police, shortly before he was promoted to the White House Chief of Staff in "The West Wing".

The movie goes a mile a minute but is suffused with an interesting enough storyline to make it well worth the price of admission. Some of what happens is ludicrous when you really think about it, but you tend to just run with it. Not a bad way to kill two hours, and you could do a lot worse.

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16 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Formula is fine when it works

9/10
Author: Sean Gallagher (seankgallagher@yahoo.com) from Brooklyn, NY
3 February 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I understand from what I read about this movie that the original script concentrated more on talk and less on action, and I would have liked to see that movie. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Sure, it's a formula film, but there's nothing wrong with formula films when they're done well, and this one was. It helps, of course, when you have two great character actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey in the lead roles. Not to mention the other cast members, like the late, lamented J.T. Walsh, David Morse, and Paul Giamatti, who also appeared in two of the year's best films, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and THE TRUMAN SHOW. The film even had a fresh spin on the "bad guy kills himself rather than face prosecution" cliche.

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31 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

Very well done

7/10
Author: Adam Morrison (dvd53@hotmail.com) from Bathurst, New Brunswick
27 February 1999

Terrific action drama about dedicated cop Jackson,who is framed for the murder of his partner and stealing money funds. Spacey does a great job as the stranger. Film relies more on drama than action which is good in this case. Marred only by overlength.

Rating:**** (out of five)

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