| ||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (August 2012)|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||F. Gary Gray|
|Produced by||David Hoberman |
|Written by||James DeMonaco |
|Starring||Samuel L. Jackson |
J. T. Walsh
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Editing by||Christian Wagner|
|Studio||Regency Enterprises |
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Release date(s)|| |
|Running time||140 minutes|
|Box office||Domestic: |
The Negotiator is a 1998 action thriller film directed by F. Gary Gray, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. It takes place in Chicago and was released on July 29, 1998. The original music score was composed by Graeme Revell.
Lieutenant Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) is a top police hostage negotiator. He has a deserved reputation for being the best, although he is not without his detractors, such as Commander Adam Beck (David Morse), head of a Hostage Barricade Terrorism (HBT) unit who thinks Roman takes too many chances.
Roman is middle-aged and recently married. He is approached by his colleague Nathan 'Nate' Roenick (Paul Guilfoyle) who warns him that large sums of money are being embezzled from the Chicago Police Department's disability fund, whose board Roman is on. Roenick has an informant, with whom he was at the Police Academy and with whom he served for a while, but Roenick refuses to name him. Roman suggests he go to Internal Affairs, but Nate thinks that Inspector Niebaum might be involved as well. Later that evening, Roman is summoned via his pager for another meeting with Roenick but instead finds him dead from gunshot wounds, seconds before patrol officers arrive.
The case goes badly for Roman when it is assigned to Niebaum (J. T. Walsh) of the Internal Affairs Division (IAD), who Roenick claimed was involved in the embezzlement. Furthermore, the gun used to kill Roenick was one of three involved in a case Roman handled in the past: two were recovered but not the third. A search warrant uncovered documents in Roman's house that indicate the embezzled funds had been deposited in an offshore account, of which Roman denies any knowledge.
Facing serious charges, suspended from the force and rejected by his friends and colleagues, including Roenick's widow, a frustrated Roman storms into Niebaum's office and, in the ensuing chaos, takes Niebaum and several others hostage, including Niebaum's administrative assistant Maggie (Siobhan Fallon), police commander Grant Frost (Ron Rifkin), and two-bit con man Rudy Timmons (Paul Giamatti).
With the building evacuated and placed under siege by police and the FBI, Roman issues his conditions, which include finding Roenick's informant and summoning police Lt. Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey), another top negotiator. Sabian, who has been trying rather unsuccessfully to negotiate peace between his sulking wife (Mary Page Keller) and cheeky daughter (Mulrooney), arrives on the scene. Roman and Sabian have only met once, briefly and know each other through reputation, but Roman wants Sabian because he is from another side of the city, unconnected to the pension fund matter, and should be one of the few people Roman can trust.
Sabian soon finds himself in a cat and mouse duel with Roman and a dispute over authority between him, the local cops, and the feds, who disagree over jurisdiction and tactics.
While Sabian tries to come up with a solution, Roman, with the help of Timmons and Maggie, gets into Niebaum's computer and discovers recordings of wiretaps, including his last conversation with Roenick. He discovers that Roenick himself was the actual informant and had passed his evidence on to the IAD. Niebaum admits that he investigated the embezzlement, but then took bribes from the fraudsters. Niebaum implicates many of Roman's squadmates in the conspiracy, but does not know who the ringleader is. Before he can reveal where he has hidden the evidence, Roman's squad-mates (who overheard his confession) prematurely attack and kill Niebaum.
When it becomes apparent that Sabian and the police have lost control of the situation, the FBI relieve Sabian and order a full-on assault. Sabian runs into the building to try to save Roman and the hostages. Roman and Sabian argue over who fired first and struggle over a weapon, only to have Roman show Sabian that the HBT team member, Scott, was not really shot - another bluff to make everyone believe Roman could kill all the hostages. Sabian has come to believe Roman has a case and gives him a chance to prove his innocence. Prior to the impending FBI SWAT attack, he and Roman devise a plan. Roman is able to sneak out of the building during the assault by wearing a confiscated HBT uniform. They proceed to Niebaum's house, where they try to find the evidence, but are then attacked by Frost, one of the former hostages, and three other members of Roman's old squad who reveal themselves as the fraudsters and Roenick's killers.
In the course of the confrontation, Sabian suddenly shoots Roman and tells Frost that he just killed Roman, a cop, so he (Sabian) is now a dirty cop and then offers to destroy the evidence in return for a piece of the pie. Frost agrees and effectively makes a full admission to his crimes, but when he leaves the house, he finds the whole area surrounded by police who have overheard his confession via Sabian's radio that Roman had. Sabian had bluffed that he had killed Roman while Roman had actually broadcasted Sabian's and Frost's conversation. Humiliated, Frost attempts to shoot himself, but Beck quickly shoots his arm and the police seize him. Roman is now cleared and Sabian gives Roman his badge back and they part company with a new-found respect for each other.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Lieutenant Danny Roman
- Kevin Spacey as Lieutenant Chris Sabian
- Paul Guilfoyle as Nathan 'Nate' Roenick
- David Morse as Commander Adam Beck
- Ron Rifkin as Commander Grant Frost (incorrectly shown, at Roenick's funeral, with 2-star rank)
- John Spencer as Chief Al Travis (incorrectly shown with the 4 stars of police superintendent)
- J. T. Walsh as Inspector Terence Niebaum
- Siobhan Fallon as Maggie
- Paul Giamatti as Rudy Timmons
- Regina Taylor as Karen Roman
- Bruce Beatty as Markus
- Michael Cudlitz as Palermo
- Carlos Gómez as Eagle
- Tim Kelleher as Argento
- Dean Norris as Scott
- Nestor Serrano as Hellman
- Stephen Lee as Farley
- Leonard Thomas as Allen
- Robert David Hall as Cale Wangro
 Production notes
The Negotiator was dedicated to J. T. Walsh, who died several months before the film's release.
When it was made, The Negotiator's $50 million budget was the highest ever given to an African-American director.
 Factual Basis
This film is loosely based on the pension fund scandal in the St. Louis Police Department in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
|This section requires expansion. (November 2009)|
 Critical response
The film received a generally positive critical response and a score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Emanuel Levy of Variety wrote: "Teaming for the first time Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. 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 overwrought thriller."
- The Negotiator at the Internet Movie Database
- The Negotiator at AllRovi
- The Negotiator at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Negotiator at Metacritic
- The Negotiator at Box Office Mojo