The Negotiator Review

Negotiator , The
Chicago set police procedural in which a hostage and a negotiator switch sides.

by Andrew Collins |
Published on
Release Date:

01 Mar 1998

Running Time:

133 minutes



Original Title:

Negotiator , The

Archtypal good cop Roman has been framed for the murder of his partner amid an unfolding police insurance scam. Smelling a rat in Internal Affairds and about to indicted, he turns the tables and takes an officeful of hostages, including oily investigator Neibaum. With their best persuader now on the other side of the loudhailer, the Chicago P.D. enlists smooth operator Sabian, who, we learn, once talked a hostage-taker down for 54 hours. At this point, the film becomes a tense two-hander, negotiator negotiating with negotiator while on the ground itchy-triggered officer Beck begs to send his groops in and put an end to all the yakkiing.

          For a film sold on the tantalisingly offbeat blend of its two stars, Jackson and Spacey spend precious little screentime together – they’re mostly on the blower. In effect, it’s Jackson’s show. Much of the brow mopping arises from his relationship with the hostages and the escalating danger of his one-man stand. It’s an action film in which the likelihood of action is as gripping as the engagement itself: plenty of false alarms, the flashing blue light of police build-up, and some handsome if predictable negotiatory bluffs – credit 27-year-old director Gray for keeping us hooked on possibility for two hours plus.

           Jackson handles himself well and Spacey’s apparently effortless grace is a welcome counterpoint. But a talky film like this demands a knockout denouement, and it’s an anticlimax heavy with convenience, Just when we could’ve use some more action…more chit-chat.

Pretty decent drama and thrills from the two leads and a tight plot.
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