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The Siege

The Siege (1998)



Average Rating: 5/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 8

An exciting, well-paced action film.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 53,060

My Rating

Movie Info

Edward Zwick directed this action thriller about Islamic militants unleashing terrorism in New York City. As FBI Terrorism Task Force-chief Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) investigates, a false-alarm bomb threat is followed by a legit bomb, with many killed when a Brooklyn bus explodes. Agents track a suspect through Brooklyn, while Hub teams with Middle East expert and NSA operative Elise Kraft (Annette Bening). After the FBI wipes out three Arabs in a Brooklyn apartment, an explosion in a

Apr 20, 1999

20th Century Fox

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All Critics (71) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (33) | DVD (20)

It's difficult to sustain a responsible subtext when you're delivering the jolts required to keep butts in the seats.

May 11, 2001 | Comment (1)
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even at its most unbelievable, The Siege has the performances of Washington and Bening to fall back on, and a theme that understands that what's difficult is not choosing right from wrong but 'choosing the wrong that's more right.'

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

More political than entertaining, The Siege is a reflection of our heightened awareness and sensitivity to terrorism and the price of freedom.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Calgary Movies
Calgary Movies

Zwick (Courage Under Fire) has fashioned another ethical tour de force that reveals his dedication to serious filmmaking.

November 6, 2003 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

If you like political thrillers with lots of explosions, domestic terrorism, and vein-popping army Generals, this movie's for you.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

A gripping build up gives way to an incredibly dumb finish.

October 9, 2002 | Comment (1)
Jam! Movies

A flawed but not uninteresting political thriller that struggles with middling success to satisfy the dual aims of being both commercially entertaining and socially significant.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

The Siege attempts to update the bluffs and counterfeints of the Cold War spy thriller, not to advance any ideological point but to obscure the fact that it doesn't have one.

March 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

The Siege raises a lot of important questions about racism, free speech, and the power of government. It doesn't deal with them particularly effectively.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

It was like eating celery - crunchy and loud and tasty - then zero caloric content after all that trouble chewing it.

June 14, 2001 Full Review

The Siege is a good idea that is never quite executed as it should be.

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

While the ending was pure Hollywood, and there was too much cute spy stuff, most of the film was suspenseful, engaging and thought-provoking.

January 1, 2001 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

The first hour is riveting, with a couple of particularly tense scenes. But things go hideously awry from there as the ham-fisted messages begin to dominate.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Wildly schizoid, The Siege manages the feat of being both intelligent and irresponsible, serious and silly.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Sacramento Bee
Sacramento Bee

In all, quite a disappointment.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus

The movie does deliver its share of action and spectacle, but action and spectacle are clearly not all Zwick and company had in mind with this fumbled Siege.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

At some point, the movie itself crosses the line, from a modestly thoughtful attempt to extrapolate a drama from real and urgent events to a generic action piece with predictable good and bad guys and pat, civics-book morals.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

The Siege is constantly heavy-handed, not entertaining or insightful, and just goes to prove that not even the best actors can save a film that lacks a satisfactory screenplay.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Siege

Elise Kraft: It's never the question that's indiscreet, just the answer. 

"An enemy they can't see. A nation under siege. A crisis they can't control."

I can certainly see why there are all the negative reviews for The Siege, but I can't say I didn't like it. I didn't like aspects of it, but as a whole it was a thoroughly engaging and entertaining movie. It just didn't have a whole lot more to offer the audience. The movie seems to saying contradicting things at the same time and the movie is filled to the brim with wise ass, but bad jokes. Like the joke of Bruce Willis as a General and the dialogue that comes out of his mouth. That was a bad joke.

When the U.S. secretly kidnaps a terrorist; a string of terrorist acts start to occur in New York. An FBI agent is then in for the ride of his life as he tries to stop all the different cells of the terrorist group from executing their destruction. Soon the crisis gets so far out of hand, that martial law is enacted in Brooklyn and people of Arab descent are quarantined. The movie is a little eerie in that it was made 3 years before 9/11, but also because of the whole tie in with WW2 and the detainment camps that were made for the Japanese.

As far as the movie goes, it's just descent. Denzel Washington gives a performance that you would expect from him. He's doing pretty much the same thing as he did in... well, everything. He plays the strong FBI man of morals with intensity and fire, and makes the movie go down a lot easier than it should. I can't say the same for Annette Benning, who I thought was surprisingly bad, and Bruce Willis, who just seemed ridiculous. 

In the end, I got enjoyment from Zwick's ridiculously plotted and written film; but I still see it exactly for what it is. It's not a movie that was sending anyone messages about terrorists or that has any importance in the world at all. It's purely entertainment and that was its and purpose. So, on that level it isn't a complete failure.
November 9, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Somehow most fail to realize that if the lead character had stayed out of the CIA and military's way thousands of lives could have been saved. The directors attempt to stick it to the man backfires spectacularly and ends up making himself and the movie look childish and reeking of pseudo-intellectualism.
January 4, 2012
Joe McCall

Super Reviewer

Edward Zwick has got to be the most underrated director in Hollywood. He has crafted some terrific films that unfortunately don't get the praise that they deserve. This is very much so the case with The Siege. After a Terrorist is secretly captured by the U.S, terrorist cells start a wave of terror attacks in New York City. First it's a bus, then it's theatre, then it's a hostage situation, after that it's the bombing of the FBI's counter terrorism New York headquarters. After these attacks, the President implements martial law in New York. I don't understand why this film has gotten so many bad reviews. Most of the reviewers hate the film for the wrong reasons. A little more than twelve years after it's initial release in cinema's, The Siege is relevant. Due because of the 9/11 attacks. Denzel Washington and Annette Bening give great performances. But one of the best here alongside Denzel Washington is Bruce Willis as General Williamn Devereaux, Willis is one cruel antagonist as his character takes control of the city through martial law and kills an American Citizen. The aspect of the film that stood out was Washington's performance and when he butts heads with Willis on screen, the mood gets very tense. Both actors are solid and with every seen they're in, it makes this film more thrilling. The film is not flawless by any means, however the story should appeal to everyone thats interested in Action / Thrillers dealing with terrorism. Considering that in September 2001, Al Qaeda carried out it's attacks on the World Trade Centre, The Siege can now be seen as almost a warning to what was to really come. A prophetic film, The Siege is a top notch action /thriller that delivers a relevant message. And considering that 9/11 happened, the events in the film though fictional would 3 years later after it's initial release be true. An underrated film.
December 12, 2010
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

The Siege is a film that, I believe, has been misunderstood and underrated. Much criticism has been levelled at the movie by Arab and Islamic groups, due to its allegedly offensive portrayal of Arabs as Islamic fundamentalists. Particular attention is directed to the events which occur when martial law is declared: the army, led by General William Devereaux (Willis) take control of Brooklyn and lock up all young Arabs who fit the potential profile of the terrorist attackers.

This event, however, is shown to be wrong and a clear subversion of human rights. The film is especially engaging because of the manner in which it is clearly based on a number of real-life events - from the bombing of the US Army base at Dhahran which opens the movie, to the alleged terrorist networks run by Osama bin Laden, to the role of covert US activities in creating and perpetuating terrorism.

Washington's character, FBI Agent Anthony Hubbard, considers himself to be a force for universal good. However, nothing in this film is clear-cut: while he criticises the army's activities for their infringements on personal freedoms, we realise that his own investigation is also likely to lead to infringements, albeit of a less visible and painful degree.

Not only is this movie interesting and thought-provoking for anyone with an interest in the issues it raises, it is also superbly acted by all involved, and well paced and executed by director Zwick.

On the whole: a film that raises interesting questions, gives some fairly clear answers, but leaves many smaller issues open for the audience to think about and consider on their own.
August 5, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Anthony Hubbard: Melvin White can't spell decent.
    – Submitted by Jesse K (12 months ago)
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