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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday July 18, 2019 

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Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) is the best hostage negotiator in the Chicago Police Department; his style is brash, risky and action driven. He is a hero, and newly married to Karen (Regina Taylor). But when his partner Nate (Paul Guilfoyle) is murdered while investigating fraud, Roman is arrested because of circumstantial evidence. In a desperate attempt to prove his innocence, Roman takes the Chief of Internal Affairs Terence Niebaum (J.T. Walsh) and his staff hostage on the 20th floor of headquarters and requests that Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey), a respected negotiator from another precinct, be brought in to mediate. Sabian’s style is quite different to Roman’s – he uses his intelligence and persuasive skills, rather than opt for violence. Has Roman gone crazy or has he been set up?"

"In what must be the year’s most thrilling thriller, Negotiator is a combination of character driven drama and high class action. The plot is riveting and never strays, while Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey show the stuff they’re made of, delivering gripping, involving and superb performances. The action is spectacular, while much of the drama is played out with tight close ups of Jackson and Spacey, who use their eyes to great effect in their psychological tussle. Jackson and Spacey deliver in different ways – Jackson is explosive and emotional, Spacey, intelligent and calculating. All the cast is superb – J.T. Walsh, who died earlier this year, is memorable as Niebaum, while David Morse (Beck), Rifkin (Frost) and Paul Giamatti (Rudy) each bring different colours and textures to the jigsaw. The dynamic of the differences between the hostages alone, is hugely entertaining. The characters are firmly established from the outset, incorporating touches of real and surprising elements that engage. Watch for the scene when we first meet Kevin Spacey’s character at work negotiating a rather surprising human situation close to home. It’s a strong script that expertly brings together carefully studied and developed characters, grounded by their depth and rounded out by complexities and human frailties. The balance between psychological intrigue and sensational action is expertly handled; Gray’s direction maximises the tension, aided by a rhythmic, soundtrack and terrific production values. Gripping, powerful and engaging, The Negotiator creates its own genre, combining powerful mind games with big budget spectacle and characters that we genuinely care about. Negotiate a ticket – you won’t regret it."
Louise Keller

"A taut, well-executed drama, the film is both gripping and has a detailed sense of character, partly due to the work of its two lead actors. An often-wry cat and mouse thriller, one of the pleasures of this movie is seeing Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey do their thing. The way they energetically dance around each other on screen makes for compelling viewing, turning a hackneyed genre into something rather special. F. Gary Gray, who directed the underrated Set It Off, has a sharp sense of pace, and creates tension beautifully. Though set largely indoors, the film has cinematic depth, is expertly cut and shot to enhance suspense and keep the audience completely involved. Aided by a well-written script that deals in police corruption, Negotiator is an engrossing, suspenseful thriller, masterfully performed and entertaining to watch and listen to. In a worn out genre, this film is a refreshing change from the norm."
Paul Fischer

"At more than two hours running time, The Negotiator needs to deliver real tension to sustain interest - and for the most part, it succeeds. The high (in both senses of the word) action drama in a Chicago building is gripping and I found myself caring about the fate of the characters trapped there. The film's big problem, however, is that the main storyline involving police corruption and a conspiracy to frame Roman for the murder of his partner lacks credibility - and worse, lapses into some very clichéd territory. The resolution of the mystery of who is behind the whole thing is actually rather boring compared with the edgy claustrophobia in the siege drama itself. The powerhouse teaming of Samuel L Jackson and Kevin Spacey, two of Hollywood's finest actors, generally works well, despite some rather stilted dialogue and the improbabilities in the script. The supporting cast however is less impressive, with the notable exceptions of the late J.T. Walsh as the IAD chief who knows more than he's letting on, and the experienced Ron Rifkin. Despite a predictably high testosterone reading (including plenty of military style weaponry and the obligatory helicopters), Gray shows remarkable restraint in keeping the body count unpredictably low. Negotiator isn't the movie-of-the-year by any stretch, although it does feature one of the year's most impressive opening titles sequences. But it is slick and (in parts) exciting Hollywood entertainment."
David Edwards

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Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1




CAST: Samuel Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, J.T. Walsh

DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray

PRODUCER: David Hoberman, Arnon Milchan

SCRIPT: James DeMonaco, Kevin Fox

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Russell Carpenter

EDITOR: Christian Wagner

MUSIC: Graeme Revell


RUNNING TIME: 139 minutes




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