The Negotiator

1998

The Negotiator

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.

75%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 56

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 130,366
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Movie Info

F. Gary Gray directed this suspenseful action thriller based on a real case experienced by police in St. Louis. The James DeMonaco/Kevin Fox screenplay follows an accused man who is forced to commit crimes in order to prove himself innocent of murder. After Chicago police hostage negotiator Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) succeeds in rescuing a little girl menaced by her gun-wielding dad, he's praised by both the police department and the media, and he returns to his usual cop routines with his longtime partner, promising his new wife Karen (Regina Taylor) he'll make it home for dinner every night. Then his partner, who had evidence of embezzlement within the police department, is killed. Since Danny arrives at the crime scene only seconds later, he's the main suspect, and Chief Al Travis (John Spencer) asks him to turn in his gun and badge. Danny invades the Chicago Internal Affairs Division headquarters and tries to get the truth from Inspector Terence Niebaum (J.T. Walsh) while holding two assistants and Commander Frost (Ron Rifkin) as hostages. He then calls for an outsider from another precinct, hostage negotiator Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey). When Sabian arrives, the two compete for control, while Danny attempts to prove to him that he's been falsely accused. The film is dedicated to J.T. Walsh, who died not long after the production wrapped. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

Cast

Samuel L. Jackson
as Danny Roman
Kevin Spacey
as Chris Sabian
David Morse
as Cmdr. Beck
Ron Rifkin
as Cmdr. Frost
J.T. Walsh
as Insp. Niebaum
Regina Taylor
as Karen Roman
Tim Kelleher
as Argento
Lily Nicksay
as Omar's Daughter
Lauri Johnson
as Chief's Wife
Sabi Dorr
as Bartender
Gene Wolande
as Morewitz
Rhonda Dotson
as Linda Roenick
Donald Korte
as Officer at Funeral
Anthony T. Petrusonis
as Officer at Funeral
John McDonald
as Pipes and Drums Leader
John Lordon
as Linda's Attorney
Jack Shearer
as D.A. Young
Mary Page Keller
as Lisa Sabian
Kelsey Mulrooney
as Stacy Sabian
Brad Blaisdell
as FBI Agent Grey
Bruce Wright
as FBI Agent Moran
Robert David Hall
as Cale Wangro
Geoff Morrell
as Reporter
Janna Tezlaff
as Reporter
Jay Levine
as Reporter
Rick Scarry
as Reporter
McNally Sagal
as Reporter
Mary Major
as Reporter
Lynn Rondell
as Reporter
Edwina Moore
as Reporter
Lynn Forslund
as Reporter
Muriel Clair
as News Anchor
Mary Ann Childers
as News Anchor
Diann Burns
as News Anchor
Carla Sánchez
as News Anchor
Robert Baier
as Officer at HBT
Ted Montue
as Officer at IAB
John Buckley
as Detective
Darius Aubry
as Detective
Steven Mainz
as TAC Officer
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Critic Reviews for The Negotiator

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (14)

  • 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

    Sep 11, 2006 | Rating: B-

    Emanuel Levy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • A hybrid action-drama featuring the choreographed pyrotechnics of director Gray and a battle of words between contrasting hostage negotiators Jackson and Spacey.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • "The Negotiator" slogs on for two hours and 20 minutes, and there's hardly a real laugh or a genuine thrill in it.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • To the extent the setup allows Spacey and Jackson to go head to head, it's a good thing. But there are other elements in the film that aren't nearly as interesting or satisfying.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • The Negotiator deserves a place among the best action/thrillers of the year. This is a Dog Day Afternoon for the '90s.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • ike Mr. Jackson, Mr. Spacey cuts an impressively cryptic figure even when dealing in platitudes, and the two stars do get to make the sort of declarations that rarely crop up in everyday life.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/5

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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