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A triumph of style over story, and of acting over characters.
The Negotiator, once it gets going (there's a rather lengthy prosaic setup), is a satisfyingly tense and booby-trapped thriller about the meeting of two relentless minds.
The A.V. Club
One of the best by-the-numbers thrillers you'll see this year, thanks to a hot-shot cast.
Los Angeles Times
It's a measure of how pulsating and energetic a visual style director F. Gary Gray has, and how vividly actors Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey come across on screen, that this film is intensely watchable from minute to minute, even though a lot of what's happening doesn't stand up to a moment's scrutiny.
The Negotiator falls short of greatness by a country mile; it's too chatty for its own good sometimes. But it's still a solid shoot-'em-up.
This is fairly efficient if you can square efficiency with being twice as long as necessary and overly familiar to boot; at least Jackson and Spacey keep it afloat.
San Francisco Chronicle
The movie has finesse, and the actors have charm, but there are no surprises.
San Francisco Examiner
When the mystery is unraveled and the frame-up is revealed, I, personally, had no idea what anyone was talking about.
Instead of the cat-and-mouse cogitations and psych-outs one might rightly expect from this high concept, we're fobbed off with a lot of sub-Die Hard theatrics and stinko plotting.
Christian Science Monitor
The concept of dueling negotiators has strong dramatic potential, but Gray seems more interested in gimmicks and gunshots than in the psychological face-off between sharp-witted foes.
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