The Negotiator

The Negotiator starring Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey is one of the most gripping movies I've seen this summer, short only of The X Files.

The basic plot is a stock one pulled from movie history: the protagonist is unjustly and wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit and has to face overwhelming odds in order to survive and prove his/her innocence (The Fugitive, U.S. Marshals, The Net). In this particular film, the twist is that the Danny Roman (Jackson), a hostage negotiator, has become an hostage taker himself in order to clear his name after being accused of murder and theft. Roman knows the rules of the game, and understanding there is corruption within his own department, he asks for a specific hostage negotiator Chris Sabian (Spacey) who is not likely to be involved in any conspiracy against him. The movie is about Sabien and Roman eventually come to trust each other with the goal of revealing who the true masterminds behind the conspiracy are.

The pace of the movie is taut and the action is just right, resulting in a combination of a suspense/whodunit/thriller/action flick. At no point in the movie can the real identity of the primary villain be discerned and there are plenty of red herrings. These are created by showing Roman to be a competent negotiator whose methods don't necessarily earn him the respect of his peers. The acting by Jackson and Spacey is great, though the former does not appear to be growing old gracefully. The Negotiator is a great formula movie, but it's done so well that you'll never realise it even given its fairly long (141 minutes) running time. It's a great time killer for an afternoon or an evening.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala ||