The Negotiator (1998) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Drama / Thriller
Warner Brothers || R - 139 minutes - $28.99 || November 10, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-11-17

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

B L U - R A Y

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer(s): James DeMonaco & Kevin Fox (written by)
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, J.T. Walsh

Theatrical Release Date: July 29, 1998

Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish

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.::THE FILM::.

The Negotiator – the 1998 suspense-thriller directed by F. Gary Gray (Law Abiding Citizen) – is well written with an amazing ensemble cast and two incredible lead actors in Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. It’s not particularly well polished in terms of the direction but the story is well laid out and despite what appears to be a bloated 139-minute running time, every minute is used to first set up the plot and second dramatically ramp up the mystery and suspense aspects for the second and third acts.

Hot shot and risk-taking negotiator Lt. Danny Roman (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) is one of the best in the city of Chicago but when his partner (PAUL GUIFOYLE) is killed after revealing that there are corrupt cops stealing from the police pension fund, Danny is framed for the murder. When things look grim for his chance of proving his innocence when even his own lawyer tells him to make a deal with the prosecutor, Danny takes a trip up to Internal Affairs where he believes Inspector Niebaum (J.T. WALSH) is involved. When a heated argument goes awry, Danny clears out the unit and takes Niebaum, a scammer-turned-informant (PAUL GIAMATTI), Niebaum’s assistant and mentor Commander Grant Frost (RON RIFKIN) hostage so he can uncover the truth and find out who framed him.

Because he can’t trust anyone in his own unit, Danny demands that negotiator Chris Sabian (KEVIN SPACEY) be called in. As the time goes on and as others within the unit want to end the situation before it gets any worse, Danny tries to find out the truth while trying to outsmart those he once called friends. Soon enough Sabian and Roman butt heads yet even Sabian starts to believe that there may be something to his claims of innocence.

The Negotiator not only features some good suspense and thrills with a story that honestly has a solid foundation, does have issues with plot holes or believability, mainly from the perspective of crime and punishment than anything else. But throwing that aside, the movie does have a great ensemble cast of who’s who. Not only do you have greats like Jackson and Spacey sharing the screen together but you add in Paul Giamatti in a smallish supporting role, the late greats J.T. Walsh and John Spencer (“The West Wing”), my favorite supporting actor in David Morse (Passengers), Ron Rifkin, Paul Guilfoyle (“CSI”) and Nestor Serrano. This is an all around top notch cast the filmmakers put together.

The movie on the whole is quite good and never feels drawn out. You’ve got two charismatic and talented leads that play off one another very well and a plot that while not entirely believable, is still good enough to carry you from beginning to end. This was only my second viewing of the film in many years but it’s still as enjoyable as it was several years ago, so the reply value is high.


Not much to this release just a couple featurettes, The Eleventh Hour: Stories from Real-Life Negotiators (6:51) and On Location: Why Chicago (16:28), and the theatrical trailer (2:33).


The Negotiator is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition. Although it’s not an overly impressive HD transfer as certain scenes showed off dirt, the picture itself is fairly clear. It’s also detailed enough to make it a slight upgrade over its DVD counterpart.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track gets a decent workout between the dialogue through the center channel or action sequences which make use of the front and rear channels. My subwoofer also turned on a few times when the action cranked things up.


The Negotiator on Blu-ray like most of Warner’s catalogue titles is fairly basic and only a modest upgrade over the DVD version. There are no new features and the audio while nice doesn’t have the wow factor. Now, the movie itself is still good even 11 years after the fact so if you don’t already own the DVD and can grab this at $10 or less, it might be worthwhile.