The Negotiator (1998)

(In theaters, August 1998) Surprisingly good entry in the cop genre, The Negotiator would have floundered without the effective, spare direction of newcomer F. Gary Gray and the superlative acting talents of Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. A friend of mine is fond of saying that Spacey (The Usual Suspects, Se7en, L.A. Confidential) has never been in a bad film; she’s still right. The setup is a bit unbelievable (cops do have an esprit-de-corps, y’know?), some of the dialogue is awful (though the delivery’s perfect!), many of the technical details are flat-out wrong (especially when computer-related) and the ending may seem an anti-climax to those expecting something else. Still, once the movie gets going, it’s an engrossing, fascinating movie that’s well worth your time.

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