The Negotiator

1998, Crime/Mystery & thriller, 2h 18m

57 Reviews 100,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

The Negotiator's battle of wits doesn't wholly justify its excessive length, but confident direction by F. Gary Gray and formidable performances makes this a situation audiences won't mind being hostage to. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) is considered the best police hostage negotiator in Chicago. After a friend warns him that someone is embezzling from a disability fund, the person is found dead. Internal affairs investigator Niebaum (J.T. Walsh) discovers the gun used had been handled by Roman. When no one believes his innocence, Roman takes Niebaum hostage. When Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey) arrives to hear Roman's demands, the two skilled negotiators begin a tense stand-off.

Cast & Crew

Samuel L. Jackson
Lt. Danny Roman
Kevin Spacey
Lt. Chris Sabian
David Morse
Cmdr. Adam Beck
Ron Rifkin
Cmdr. Grant Frost
John Spencer
Chief Al Travis
J.T. Walsh
Insp. Terence Niebaum
Regina Taylor
Karen Roman
Paul Giamatti
Rudy Timmons
Kevin Fox
Writer
David Nicksay
Executive Producer
Robert Stone
Executive Producer
Webster Stone
Executive Producer
Graeme Revell
Original Music
Russell Carpenter
Cinematographer
David Rubin
Casting
Holger Gross
Production Design
Kevin Ishioka
Art Direction
Richard C. Goddard
Set Decoration
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News & Interviews for The Negotiator

Critic Reviews for The Negotiator

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (15)

  • Teaming for the first time Kevin Spacey and Samuel Jackson, arguably the two best actors of their generation, in perfectly fitting roles is a shrewd move and the best element of this fact-inspired but overwrought thriller

    September 11, 2006 | Rating: B-
  • A hybrid action-drama featuring the choreographed pyrotechnics of director Gray and a battle of words between contrasting hostage negotiators Jackson and Spacey.

    January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    April 25, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The movie's a thriller that really hums along, and I was intensely involved almost all the way. Only now, typing up my notes, do I fully realize how many formula elements it contains.

    January 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The Negotiator falls short of greatness by a country mile; it's too chatty for its own good sometimes. But it's still a solid shoot-'em-up.

    January 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • "The Negotiator" slogs on for two hours and 20 minutes, and there's hardly a real laugh or a genuine thrill in it.

    January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Negotiator

  • Jun 13, 2015
    Simply by having Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey in one film is more than enough to make this worth-watching. What makes everything better is that The Negotiator is actually a finely made action-thriller that will capture your interest until the very last frame.
    Maymay A Super Reviewer
  • Feb 04, 2013
    Its a walk in the park for the two leads who enliven this ho-hummer about police corruption and some money missing from the patrolmen's fund. The interesting twist is the battle of wits between two professional hostage negotiaters.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 09, 2012
    Based on actual events, F. Gary Gray directs this tense action/suspense thriller about Danny Roman- a top Chicago hostage negotiator who, after being framed for murder and suspected of departmental corruption, takes desperate measures to clear his name and discover the truth by taking hostages of his own and forcing a fellow top negotiator from a different district to diffuse the situation. The film does get overwrought and maybe a bit much in terms of believability from time to time, but is nevertheless an extremely suspenseful thrill ride punctuated by solid performances from a great cast. Samuel L. Jackson is tremendous as Roman, and Kevin Spacey is likewise very top-notch as the outsider negotiator Chris Sabian. Those two work well together, and I'd love to see them do more work with one another in the future. J.T. Walsh gives a solid turn in one of his final films as a shady player at Internal Affairs whom Danny takes hostage, and, for comic relief, there's Paul Giamatti as a weaselly informant. And it also doesn't hurt to get solid, if typical work from David Morse as one of Danny's colleagues who is conflicted by how to handle the situation. That's one aspect where the film really shines. The hostage taker knows all the rules and tricks, and the fact that he has a history with the people on the other side (who might also be the people that set him up) make this a real nail-biter at times. Having an outsider come into the situation is also great as he could be more trustworthy in Danny's eyes, but not necessarily. Plus, he's got to deal with Danny's department, who likewise don't know or really trust him. Like I said, the film isn't perfect, but is still very thrilling, extremely gripping, and holds together quite nicely. F. Gary Gray gets crap as a director for being rather contrived and cliched, but when it comes to delivering crowd pleasing entertainment, he's great, and this is a film I really recommend.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 13, 2012
    This action thriller directed by F. Gary Gray , starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey, takes place in Chicago and it was his third feature. Interesting story of the Lieutenant Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) who from a top police hostage negotiator suddenly finds himself facing serious charges, suspended from the force and rejected by his friends and colleagues... Developed carefully, every detail finds its own place in this giant puzzle which keeps the audience in suspense from the beginning to the end. The struggle of Roman to get to the truth is nothing new in movies, but the director's execution of the story was well above you could expect in a film like this (by the way, this film was based on a real case experienced by police in St. Louis). The second part gets even better when the character of the negotiator Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey) was introduced. I can't believe that no director before F. Gary Gray thought of placing these two extraordinary actors, Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey together in the midst of a thriller action. They work perfectly well and it was pleasure watching them in their roles as negotiators trying to outsmart each other. Now, when you add actors like Ron Rifkin, Paul Giamatti (even when he's chained to a filing cabinet most of the movie) and David Morse (as the most compelling SWAT commander of all time) - that was quite a team out there. If you like a thriller which provides some great twists and charged power plays, here is one to see!
    Panta O Super Reviewer

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