The Negotiator

MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for violence and language.

Reviewed by: Dave Rettig

Moral Rating: Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults
Genre: Action Drama
Year of Release: 1998
USA Release:
Featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Ron Rifkin, J.T. Walsh
Director F. Gary Gray
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures. Trademark logo.
Warner Bros. Pictures
, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Who do you trust if you can’t trust your friends? This is the question veteran police negotiator Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) must face when life’s tables are turned. His partner, while investigating missing police department funds, is found murdered, in Romans arms, with a gun linked to Roman, and the funds in accounts in Danny’s name. But when Danny confronts his accuser Inspector Niebaum (J.T. Walsh), the situation escalates into more than anyone had imagined. Now Danny Roman is on the other side of the hostage negotiator situation and Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey) is the police negotiator who must bring him in… and discover the truth.

Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey are powerful actors and lend such strength to “The Negotiator” that any weaknesses in the plot are whitewashed in their presence. The somewhat predictable plot is barely noticeable as we are captured in the interactions of Jackson and Spacey. What a powerful pair! Add to this a plot where two masters of psychological manipulation ply their trade against one another and you have a stunningly intense film! I was on the edge of my seat from go!

“The Negotiator” contains violence, language, and gore. However (and I am not condoning these things), no more than one would expect in an R rated police drama-action film. I found the situation and interplay of the two leads created more tension than anything else and this was powerful, almost disturbing. The gore was typical of most police films (the occasional gun victim); however, the murder of Roman’s partner was particularly bloody.

If you have concerns regarding the content of “R” rated films, “The Negotiator” is not for you. The violence, language, and gore are present and the MPA correctly rated this film for 17 or older. It is too bad that “The Negotiator” contained the levels of violence, language, and gore that it did… the psychological tension alone would have made a great suspense film. There are many choices of dramatic-action films with lower MPA rating; rent one. On the other hand, if you enjoy this type of film and the rating does not bother you, you are in for one intense ride!

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
My wife and I really enjoyed this movie!! We weren’t expecting much. Before its release, the previews had seemed to give the whole plot away—not the case! The Negotiator pulls off an intense hostage taking action/drama which goes far beyond the typical predictable action movie. While most films of this type are supported by nothing more than expensive stuntwork and explosions, The Negotiator weaves through captivating plot twists right to the very end.

The acting is good, the dialogue is well done, and it is as much a drama as an action movie. Too much swearing, and some shooting as well… no sexually suggestive humour and the main character has morals… though it is R rated I found the overall content much less offensive than many PG-13 films. My moral rating: not virtuous but much better than most action movies. Technically, The Negotiator is about as good as a movie of this type can get, and outdoes many many action films. I definitely recommend it.
Todd Adams, age 31
I truly truly enjoyed this film. The fact that I’m a Sammy Jackson fan speaks for itself. My 15 year old sister went with me (I’m 31) to see it and man it was great. The language content as mentioned above could’ve been more eliminated, but for cop shows one could only expect that. I loved the suspense, the skill of the negotiatior, the humor as well as the different tactics used. I even learned a few things about negotiation skills in a hostage situation. Its too bad Sammy had to go the extreme he did to prove his innocence but I’m glad he didn’t kill anyone—even when he made it seem like he did. I was proud of him. He and Spacey did make a terrific pair. But its a lesson to be learned here on trust. As scripture tells us it is better to trust in God than to put confidence in man. Yes, only the truest of friends only come out in the end. Enough said.
Susan Thomas, age 31
Kevin Spacey makes this movie. He is a great actor. Samuel L. Jackson is as good as ever too. This is a well-written script with a great idea, but how many shoot-em-up cop movies do we need on the big screen? Even with all the unnecessary gunfire, this one is worth a look on the big screen. Your audience base will surprise you too. This is as desegregated a crowd that you will find in a theatre. The whites come to see Kevin Spacey and company, and the blacks will come to see Samuel L. Jackson. Any way you slice it, this is top movie making talent at its best. Keep the kids at home though. They don’t need any help in seeing gunfire being sensationalized.
Phillip M. Woeckener