The Negotiator

“When your friends betray you, sometimes the only people you can trust are strangers.”

Tense, smart and compelling police drama…The Negotiator remains a satisfying police film, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey, that will stand the test of time.  F.Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, The Fate of the Furious) does a great job directing a smart showcase for these worthy actors. Writers/producers James DeMonaco (The Purge) teams up with Kevin Fox (TV’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) who puts in his first and, so far, only screenplay.

The hostage negotiation skills learned by Danny Roman (Jackson) on the Chicago police force come in handy when he must weed out a dirty cop during a tense high rise standoff.  Chris Sabian (Spacey) comes in as a stranger, but smartly finds his way to the truth as he assesses the situation by taking the facts from both sides into account.

Jackson and Spacey push this average script up a level as David Morse (Contact, The Rock) does a great job keeping you guessing throughout this crime thriller full of cop corruption. Audiences care about the characters thanks to the strong emotional scenes.

Paul Giamatti almost steals the film as Rudy who gets caught up in the conflict and knows just enough to be dangerous and sway any possible outcomes.

The other supporting characters admirably adhere to the plot and main characters, except for J.T.Walsh (Breakdown, Good Morning Vietnam) who seemed to be cast as an antagonist in every single film he did. Paul Guilfoyle and Robert David Hall (both from TV’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) play key characters Nate and Cale while Ron Rifkin (TV’s Alias) plays a key law enforcement character named Grant Frost.

John Spencer (The West Wing series) plays Chief Al Travis while Regina Taylor (Courage Under Fire, I’ll Fly Away series) plays Danny’s wife Karen. Siobhan Fallon Hogan (Men in Black, Forrest Gump) makes a great impression as the no-nonense office worker Maggie as Stephen Lee (WarGames) plays another key law enforcement officer named Farley.

The Negoiator is a solid two-hour and 20 minute piece of entertainment and comes recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated R for violence and language.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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