The Negotiator

on July 31, 1998 by Christine James
   An amalgam of "Die Hard" and "The Fugitive," "The Negotiator" nevertheless has enough originality and strong protagonists to make this an entertaining, if familiar, action/thriller. Samuel Jackson is Danny Roman, an expert hostage negotiator whose risky, unorthodox methods put him at odds with his supervisors. When Danny is framed by a cadre of crooked cops for embezzlement and murder, he turns the tables on his accusers by kidnapping the ringleader of the scheme as well as a few innocent bystanders. Using his knowledge of hostage situations to his advantage, Danny spends most of the rest of the film outwitting his nemeses, which now include some of his former colleagues.
   Desperate to expose the truth, Danny is a man driven to the edge, yet his ethics remain intact--though he can't let his hostages know that. Paul Giamatti ("Private Parts") brings a welcome comic relief as a likable slimeball who's caught in the crossfire. Kevin Spacey is effectively intense as the negotiator who proves a formidable match for Danny. While the action for most of the film is well-paced and inventive, a rushed climax is something of a let-down in wasted possibilities as far as potential collaborative mayhem on the part of the protagonists. Still, it's a taut suspense with some impressive performances, and should be able to negotiate an sizable boxoffice settlement. Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. Directed by F. Gary Gray. Written by James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox. Produced by David Hoberman and Arnon Milchan. A Warner release. Action/thriller. Rated R for violence and language. Running time: 132 min
Tags: Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, F. Gary Gray, thriller, Paul Giamatti, Siobhan Fallon, Regina Taylor, J.T. Walsh, David Morse, Arnon Milchan, hostage, police, conspiracy, murder, corruption

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