Friday, June 10, 2011

The Negotiator

The Negotiator
Director: F. Gary Gray
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Ron Rifkin, David Morse, J.T. Walsh, Paul Giamatti, John Spencer
Released: July 29, 1998

I had seen The Negotiator about twelve years ago, but hadn't seen it since, so while I remembered the general plot, I didn't remember who was revealed as the bad guy in the end. Danny Roman (Jackson) deals with hostage situations and the film begins with one where he's trying to talk a crazy man from shooting his daughter. You see that he is very skilled at his job and knows how to talk to people to get them to do certain things and the tables are soon turned when he finds his partner has been murdered. Roman is framed for his partner's murder (unfortunately he just so happened to be at the scene when the police arrived because his partner had asked to meet him at this location). Roman knows that someone on the inside had his partner murdered because his partner had information that would implicate this certain someone.

Roman decides to take matters into his own hand and ends up taking the Internal Affairs office of a government building hostage because he knows that's where he'll find something that will disprove his guilt. For some reason I thought he had taken many people hostage, but the only people he's holding is Niebaum (Walsh), the man who he believes knows the truth about who murdered his partner, Neibaum's secretary, a shady fellow played by a pre-famous Giamatti who provides the comic relief, and a cop (Rifkin) who works with Roman. He also takes two more police officers when they come in through the window.

Because Roman is a negotiator, he knows all the tricks his team has planned to get him out of the building and tells them he will only talk to Chris Sabian, another skilled negotiator who works with another police department in Chicago. He believes Sabian is the only one who will be able to understand and help him and he knows Sabian has had a great record as a negotiator with no deaths. Sabian is played by Spacey and he doesn't show up until forty-five minutes into the movie which seems like quite a long time for your second lead to appear in a movie!

As one might expect, there's plenty of finger-biting moments, especially during one scene when Roman is talking to a fumbling police officer while they're waiting for Sabian to appear on the scene. The police officer keeps saying the wrong things to Roman who points this out to him and threatens to kill someone the next time the officer says "no" and Roman keeps baiting him and asking him questions where it's impossible to say "no".  (Such as "Have you ever cheated on your wife?)

We know one of the cops on the scene is the one who had Roman's partner killed and is framing Roman. The obvious one would be the one played by Morse because it was established early in the film that he wasn't particularly fond of the way Roman handled the hostage situation and he demands that they take a shot at him every time they have a way to take down Roman. He just seemed too obvious to be the one who was the mole so I knew it wasn't him.

It's kind of funny because when I first saw this movie the only actors I knew were Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey and I was familiar with some of David Morse's work, but that was about it. Now when I watched it a second time, I recognized a lot more people: Paul Giamatti, of course, along with a bunch of actors I recognized from TV: Arvin Sloan from Alias, Leo McGarry from The West Wing, Walter White's brother-in-law from Breaking Bad,  Detective Jim Brass (he played the murdered partner) and the coroner guy from CSI. They're all in this movie.

While I think this movie is great and highly recommend it, there is something that bothers me: I understand that Roman wanted to clear his name and see who was really behind all of this, but he had to know that holding people hostage at gunpoint (and not to mention causing some major property damage) wasn't going to be taken lightly and most likely he would have been sent to jail for that, but the movie just ends with him finding out who the bad guy is and going to the hospital for his injuries. I guess he got immunity since he was framed...I don't know...well, it's a good movie nonetheless!

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