johnlink ranks THE NEGOTIATOR (1998)

Can’t go wrong with Spacey and Samuel L. Well, at least before Mr. Jackson started agreeing to do every film which offered him  some money. But this was in that classic Jackson era, when everything he did seemed to be gold. And Spacey? He’s just the best. If you haven’t seen THE NEGOTIATOR, it definitely comes recommended.

I watched THE NEGOTIATOR (1998) on 2.9.10. It was, I’d guess, my eight or ninth viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

This is a movie where style, sharpness, and cool trump reality. While this isn’t LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD territory, there are certainly scenes which extend your ability to believe it would go down the way it does. One example (speaking of DIE HARD trends) is the FBI’s complete lack of strategy. When taking over an investigation, their tactic is tell the guy we are coming to get him five minutes before we try to break down the door and surprise him.

But then, that isn’t why this movie is being watched.

The reason to see this is Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey doing their thing as a couple of police negotiators. They are fun to listen to. It doesn’t hurt that the supporting cast is stellar. Ron Rifkin, the late great duo of John Spencer and JT Walsh, and Paul Giamatti are all well utilized. The best of the support comes from David Morse. The guy, to me, is the most under-utilized character actor working today. He provides immense weight where a cliche would otherwise thrive. I get a little annoyed at the weakness of the one strong female character in the film’s third act, but based on who was in the script at that juncture, the writers gave themselves little alternative.

F. Gary Gray’s direction is cookie cutter. There are times I could use less editing, as when Jackson is giving his speech attempting to rally the troops. Sometimes you just need to linger on an actor for a little longer – something Gray was a little better with a few years later when he directed THE ITALIAN JOB.

As far as slick action flicks go, and the 90s were a great era for them, this is one of the most easily re-watchable selections. If you haven’t seen this one, it is certainly worth a watch.





~ by johnlink00 on February 9, 2010.

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