The NegotiatorThe Negotiator (1998)

Starring Samuel Jackson, Kevin Spacey, J.T. Walsh, David Morse, John Spencer, Ron Rifkin, and Siobhan Fallon.
Written by James DeMonaco & Kevin Fox.
Directed by F. Gary Gray.

Grade: B-

Review by Carlo Cavagna.

Samuel Jackson is Danny Roman, a police negotiator who is framed for murder and embezzling from the police department's pension fund. When he is unable to prove his innocence, he takes hostage Internal Affairs investigator Terence Neibaum and a number of other people who happen to be standing by. Thus are the tables turned. Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey) is the negotiator called in from another precinct to bargain with Roman, who refuses to release his hostages until the real villains are unmasked. You can bet that Neibaum is involved in the conspiracy to frame Roman, by virtue of the simple fact that Neibaum is played by J.T. Walsh.

I would pay to watch Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey read out of a telephone book--and enjoy it. The plot is hogwash, but the two leads make this film work. The reliably villainous J.T. Walsh adds strength to the cast. Walsh, who can also be seen in Breakdown, Pleasantville, Slingblade, Red Rock West, The Grifters, The Last Seduction, and House of Games, to name but a few, died of a heart attack not long after The Negotiator wrapped. The film is dedicated to his memory.

Review © March 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Image © 1998 Warner Bros.

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