In the midst of an elaborate conspiracy, an expert negotiator is driven to the edge when he's framed for the murder of his partner, as well as embezzling money from his department's pension fund. His only chance to prove his innocence is to take hostages himself, acquire the services of another expert negotiator, and find out who's running the conspiracy before it's too late. Written by
The building where Danny holes up is at Wacker and Clark; police cars seen, ostensibly "to the scene," are actually speeding south on Wabash at Van Buren - a point already south of the building. See more »
Just when you think he's cornered, he thinks of a new strategy. Samuel L. Jackson portrays Lieutenant Danny Roman, police hostage negotiator. When he's framed for a crime he didn't commit, against his fellow police officers no less, he knows that the only way out is to bring in an equally tough negotiator, Lieutenant Chris Sabian played by Kevin Spacey, who's from another precinct and who therefore could not have been contaminated by the bad elements within his own force, which buys him the necessary time to bluff and blindside while he finds the clues he needs to prove he's innocent. Chicago is taken hostage along with the few people he retains as bargaining chips, and we are taken along for the ride. This was a masterful job of film-making from beginning to end. The characters and story were flawlessly developed. We don't precisely know who's guilty or who's innocent. Roman conducts his interrogation and trial while he negotiates with the police outside, some of whom are working overtime to eliminate Roman before he figures it all out. This all occurs right under the noses of the FBI who are in way over their heads and don't have a clue who's guilty or innocent, just like the rest of us watching. Along the way, we get to witness Roman lecture his underlings about the finer points of negotiations while he himself has just become a hostage taker. "Never say no!" he barks with effective zeal. And he tests his bewildered pupils continuously, who fail continuously. Only Sabian is smart enough to understand what's going on in Roman's mind. The strategy is shared by two men who think alike, who are under stress, and have an innate instinct for lie detection. The screenplay was terrific. The cinematography was effective. The acting of Jackson and Spacey exceptional. And the supporting cast, particularly bad-guy-turned-good-guy Paul Giamatti who provides great comic relief, was outstanding. If you're in the mood for an intelligent, taut thriller, The Negotiator delivers... 9/10.
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