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Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer ... see more see more... , J.T. Walsh , Regina Taylor , Siobhan Fallon , Paul Giamatti , Kelsey Mulrooney , Bruce Beatty , Carlos Gomez , Dean Norris , Michael Cudlitz

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 c... read more read more...rimes 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

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79% liked it

129,462 ratings


75% liked it

56 critics

DVD Release Date: December 15, 1998

Stats: 3,563 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (3,563)

  • February 4, 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.
  • December 9, 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 t... read moreaking 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.
  • July 30, 2011
    Another flixter deletion, I reviewed this a long time ago but it was probably too colorful. The length could be condensed but I think it's one of Samuel Jackson's best movies in a leading role. It has a solid supporting cast and is a prime example of his yelling abilities.
  • May 22, 2011
    F. Gary Gray is a terrific director when it comes to delivering action, suspense and thrills. He is overlooked as a talented director because his films tend to be "cliched" and "derivative". However I think he's a good director, not great, not excellent, but good. Gray knows how ... read moreto deliver a good story to the screen, and he most certainly does it with The Negotiator. This is an electrifying film with plenty of action, but more importantly, suspense. The story follows a cop who is accused of killing his partner. His partner uncovered a conspiracy of embezzlement with the police department. Officer Danny Roman must then take matters into his own hands to uncover the truth. He takes a group of people hostage at the Chicago internal affairs division headquarters.The Negotiator is a well crafted action thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The film is not perfect, but it certainly delivers good entertainment. Samuel L. Jackson gives a great performance and so does Kevin Spacey. The plot is very interesting, like I said itr's not perfect, but there are more good things than bad in the film. The acting choices are good, and everyone delivers something unique on screen. I really enjoyed this film and despite the somewhat lackluster bits, theres too much going on that makes up for the bad. For me, The Negotiator is one of Samuel L. Jackson's best films, and he delivers something on screen thats better than most of his other work.
  • April 19, 2011
    Jackson and Spacey are brilliant and obviously in their element. The average story seems to be the only thing holding this film back.
  • January 24, 2011
    When a successful police negotiator is falsely accused of corruption and killing his colleague, he takes four people, including an inspector and a commander, as a hostage with him in order to gain time and means to find out the facts and prove his innocence.

    The movie is a conve... read morentional action thriller that successfully delivers what it primarily intends to: entertain. The humorous dialogues and situations throughout the movie often makes you chuckle. Samuel Jackson is rocking.

    As for the cons of this movie, the who-dun-it part was ineffective and it dragged a bit too much in the second half. Trimming it by at least 20 minutes would have been helpful. Anyway, worth a shot for what it is.
  • October 9, 2010
    I hate it when a good movie is ruined by a fatal simplistic flaw, okay so Ill just ignore that tiny crack that the whole story revolved around in cuz the acting, casting and the script was so good! Aye carumba, I cant bear to give this an average rating cuz it wasnt average at al... read morel, but there was something about the story that was somewhat mentally insulting ugh.. Its a good film, dont mind my whining. XP!
  • December 10, 2009
    "He frees hostages for a living. Now he's taking hostages to survive."

    In a desperate attempt to prove his innocence, a skilled police negotiator accused of corruption and murder takes hostages in a government office to gain the time he needs to find the truth.

    ... read morefont size=+2 face="Century Schoolbook">REVIEW

    Lieutenant Danny Roman, just married and quickly becoming recognized as one of Chicago's top hostage negotiators, has his life turned upside down when he's framed for the murder of his partner and embezzlement of his department's pension fund. With the evidence piling up against him and unsure of who he can trust, he resorts to desperate means by taking hostages himself and acquiring the services of an unknown by equally skilled negotiator (Spacey) in order to clear his name. Sharp, intelligent thriller should be your run of the mill cop flick, but the plot twists are so convincing, the police procedures so realistic, and the acting done with such great conviction that you don't want to miss a single moment of it! Jackson and Spacey ignite the screen, but they're surrounded by a top-notch supporting cast. A great piece of work from all those involved.
  • September 21, 2009
    I?m glad Paul Giamatti turns down the stupid comedy roles these days. It?s an ok film, but it should?ve been better due to its great cast!
  • April 14, 2009
    i like this movie its really good

Critic Reviews

Emanuel Levy
September 11, 2006
Emanuel Levy, Variety

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... Full Review

January 26, 2006
Time Out

A hybrid action-drama featuring the choreographed pyrotechnics of director Gray and a battle of words between contrasting hostage negotiators Jackson and Spacey. Full Review

James Berardinelli
January 1, 2000
James Berardinelli, ReelViews

The Negotiator deserves a place among the best action/thrillers of the year. This is a Dog Day Afternoon for the '90s. Full Review

Mick LaSalle
January 1, 2000
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

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. Full Review

Roger Ebert
January 1, 2000
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

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. Full Review

Janet Maslin
January 1, 2000
Janet Maslin, New York Times

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. Full Review

Charles Taylor
January 1, 2000
Charles Taylor,

"The Negotiator" slogs on for two hours and 20 minutes, and there's hardly a real laugh or a genuine thrill in it. Full Review

Owen Gleiberman
July 29, 1998
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Just about everyone in The Negotiator is either blowing off steam or holding it in, and that's the movie's chief pleasure. The action is really a pipeline into audience fantasies-of restraint and rele... Full Review

Kevin Carr
June 27, 2011
Kevin Carr, 7M Pictures

It's not perfect, but it's enjoyable enough to be one of those movies I might stop channel surfing to watch on late-night television. Full Review

Peter Canavese
February 17, 2010
Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews

This highly incredible story lives and dies on its leading performances, so it's a damn good thing someone hired Jackson and Spacey to go toe to toe. [Blu-ray] Full Review

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    • Danny Roman: It didn't work, Beck! I'm still alive, motherfucker!
    • Stacy Sabian: I'm a pill.
    • Rudy: You know what Nietzsche says: Even the strongest have their moments of fatigue. And I'm fatigued, Danny. I'm just, I'm fucking fatigued.
    • Chris Sabian: I once talked a guy out of blowing up the Sears Tower but I can't talk my wife out of the bedroom or my kid off the phone.

The Negotiator : Watch Free on TV

The Negotiator Trivia

  • Which actor played in the Negotiator, American Beauty and the usual suspects?  Answer »
  • Which movie stared Samuel L. Jackson as a negotiator who has been framed for murdering his partner  Answer »
  • Which film has this tagline.... He frees hostages for a living. Now he's taking hostages to survive.  Answer »
  • Who plays hostage negotiator Danny Roman in the film The Negotiator?  Answer »

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