Blu-ray Review: THE NEGOTIATOR
Movie Rating: 7.5/10
Blu-ray Rating: 6/10
A solid thriller when it was initially released, THE NEGOTIATOR makes a nice transition to Blu-ray, as no dated warts are revealed more than a decade after the film's production.
THE NEGOTIATOR stars two of the most in-demand actors at the time it was made. They are two names that are deservingly still popular today, Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. Both A-list actors play negotiators in the film, but on different sides of a hostage situation.
Jackson plays Lt. Danny Roman, a great hostage negotiator who gets framed for the death of his friend and fellow officer. Eventually, the evidence against Roman becomes so strong that his lawyer tells him he has no other choice but to admit guilt and make a plea bargain. Roman cannot do this, he is innocent and he will not leave his new wife and go to jail for a crime he did not commit. So he does the obvious thing, holding one of the men that framed him (along with several other people) hostage at gun point.
Determined not to give up until he has his answers, Roman says the only person he will talk to his fellow negotiator, Lt. Chris Sabian (Spacey). It's an odd choice, as Roman does not know Sabian very well. So, why does Roman insist on Sabian then? Because Sabian is a talk-first, violence-as-a-last-resort kind of guy, which will give Roman a lot of time to try to get his answers. Also, Sabian seems to be a level-headed guy and not involved in the frame job, meaning Roman can trust him to an extent.
After over ten years, there is still a lot to like about THE NEGOTIATOR. The film provides two incredibly enjoyable lead performances by Jackson and Spacey. Jackson gets to show off more and does a fine job of it. Spacey has the more restrained part, but gets appropriately intense when it is time.
Other than two great lead performances, THE NEGOTIATOR has several nice twists, and it builds suspense well. The film, thankfully, never gets a head of itself. When a new clue is revealed or action sequence appears, it always feels earned.
THE NEGOTIATOR benefits highly from being converted to the highest definition possible. The action scenes, as well as the high-contrast of the Chicago night with spotlights pointed at the building under siege by Roman, and low-lighting in the hostage room, all look great in 1080p. You also get 5.1 Dolby Digital sound with the Blu-ray.
The features that come with THE NEGOTIATOR Blu-ray are The 11th Hour: Stories From Real Negotiators (guess what it is about), and On Location, a feature about how and why the film's city and specific locations were chosen. The 11th Hour is straightforward and a little dry, but will be interesting to anyone intrigued by the profession of negotiator. On Location has good insights from the film's director and others involved in the film's production about how the film came to be set where it is. THE NEGOTIATOR's theatrical trailer also comes with the Blu-ray.
THE NEGOTIATOR Blu-ray features a, HD version that is definitely worth a look. Unfortunately, it is a few special features short of being a really impressive release, but still worth checking out.