10 May 2007 | jpschapira
An honest cop is an easy target, right? Well, this is what the trailer of "The Negotiator" states, but it also states a lot of more things; some which it shouldn't state. So my first recommendation is: don't watch the trailer of this film before watching the film itself
It will make it better. Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) is a successful negotiator and, as it happens in these films, he's getting too close to something and consequences are ahead.
That's all you'll hear from me. After this main plot line, "The Negotiator" becomes a nerve- racking ride; with thrills all the way through and a very intelligent use of the general elements of the crime thriller. See, that's the thing about crime thrillers: they are always around the same kind of ideas and stories. I recently watched "Edison" and I didn't like the way it handled things; because it wanted to give an explanation to a conspiracy that was confusing and difficult to understand, sadly inside of a good script.
"The Negotiator" suffers from the same thing. However, writers James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox make it up with some beautifully written, gripping dialogue in a fantastic achievement; considering that one of them hadn't done anything before and the other had written "Jack". The screenplay of "The Negotiator" is probably what brings the rest to life.
It isn't the writers' fault but, although the cameras are well placed and F. Gary Gray's direction is accurate, everything feels a little bit like television (like in "SWAT"). I'm not saying this is a bad characteristic, because it doesn't make the film less dynamic and because the film is, as I said, intelligent; but it's ultimately disappointing. The music by Graeme Revell is one of the high points, with chilling strings that accentuate the characters' looks in the moments of tension.
These moments of tension also look like television, but we forgive it because we get some good intense looks. If "The Negotiator" is not good for everything else (which is not entirely true), it is good because of the actors (casting by David Rubin). Samuel L. Jackson is full of perfectly managed rage as Danny Roman, achieving a better performance than the ones he got in other movies where he carried guns, like "The Long Kiss Goodnight", "Rules of Engagement", even "Shaft" and definitely "SWAT".
A lot of the actors in the cast come from television or are now still on television (which may help the feeling I was talking about), like Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, Carlos Gomez, Nestor Serrano, Stephen Lee and Doug Spinuzza. They are all great, and so is the late J.T Walsh in a small role. Besides, Regina Taylor is powerful as Jackson the cold David Morse is astounding playing a kind of villain and showing he's one of the best for playing villains today; even in films like "Dreamer".
Paul Giamatti steals the show as a maniac hostage, which is a nice performance to see Giamatti before becoming the cult performer he is now. He was still good then. Siobhan Fallon is also flawless as a law-abiding secretary. But Jackson is the centre of the movie, alongside the other main character. Chris Sabian appears late in the film, but in the skin of Kevin Spacey he encounters Jackson's craziness and "The Negotiator" elevates itself into a whole different level. Spacey's facial expression and manner of talking and Jackson's unique eyes movement are just little details of their incredible performances and their chemistry.
Wonderful actors pay attention to details in movies. At least just to watch Spacey and Jackson, you can't miss "The Negotiator". It has one of the best acting duos I've seen in a long time.