The Negotiator (1998)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good cast

Rather basic story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Negotiator

Studio:  Regency Enterprises

Genre(s):  Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  July 29, 1998

MPAA Rating:  R


Why are there so many motherf*$@ing hostages in this motherf*$@ing building?!?!

Hostage negotiator Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) learns that his partner Nathan Roenick (Paul Guilfoyle) is investigating disability fund embezzlement.  When Roenick is killed, Roman is framed for the crime by someone in his department.  Determined to prove himself innocent, he takes the internal affairs investigator Niebaum (J.T. Walsh), his secretary Maggie (Siobhan Fallon), an informant Rudy Timmons (Paul Giamatti), and his commander Grant Frost (Ron Rifkin) in a hostage standoff.  Demanding negotiator Lt. Chris Sabian, Danny is out to prove his innocence…even if the guilty men are to kill him before he can.


I’m finally here…let’s start the negotiating!!!

Directed by F. Gary Gray, The Negotiator is a suspense mystery thriller.  It was one of the last films of prolific character actor J.T. Walsh who died before the film’s release.  The movie receive mostly positive reviews and has gained a following over the years.

Thrillers aren’t my favorite type of movie…let me rephrase that, big screen, blockbuster thrillers aren’t my favorite movies.  Generally, they are cliché, think the audience is stupid, and loaded with twists that aren’t that twisty.  The Negotiator is one of those films, but still manages to be slightly entertaining.


I’m calling the shots now!

The Negotiator’s weakness is in its story.  It unfolds rather methodically and weirdly waits a long time to introduce Jackson’s costar Kevin Spacey.  The surprise revelation of the real killer isn’t that much of a surprise and the movie is loaded with red herrings are really forced.

The acting for the movie is above par.  Samuel L. Jackson was at his peak of popularity after Pulp Fiction and seemed to be in everything.  Kevin Spacey had just made his name in both The Usual Suspects and L.A. Confidential and though his character doesn’t show up until later in the movie, he makes a mark.  The movie also boasts a nice supporting cast with people like Paul Giamatti and character actors like Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, Siobhan Fallon, Regina Taylor, and the J.T. Walsh.


Ha…now I have a hostage!

Visually, the movie is pretty standard and shot in a standard way.  Like the script, the movie is doesn’t take chances or provide any surprises.  I am not saying that every movie should or needs to experiment with its visuals, and The Negotiator is a fine example of a movie that wouldn’t necessarily benefit from any flashy style.

The Negotiator is one of those by the numbers thrillers.  It has some fun, decent acting, but the surprises and twists seem pretty basic and predictable…it rarely surprises.  Despite this, it is a decent thriller, just don’t go into it expecting anything unusual and different from its story.

[easyazon-block align=”center” asin=”B002ID09DK” locale=”us”]

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response