Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
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 noticable 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 occassional 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 MPAA 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 suspence film. There are many choices of dramatic-action films with lower MPAA 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!