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THE NEGOTIATOR ($25) is an absolutely superior thriller that I can’t recommend highly enough. THE NEGOTIATOR stars Samuel L. Jackson as Danny Roman, one of the Chicago police department’s top hostage negotiators. Roman has a reputation as a maverick, a man who doesn’t always play by the rule, yet he always gets the job done. Days after a news making negotiation, Roman finds himself framed for embezzlement and murder. Trying to get at the truth, Roman enters the police department’s internal affairs office so he can talk to the one man who may hold all the answers. Things escalate out of control and Danny Roman is forced to take a few strategic hostages that he hopes will help him smoke out the real criminals. Members of Roman’s team want to talk him down, but since he suspects that some of them may be dirty, Roman specifically requests another well-known police negotiator.

THE NEGOTIATOR also stars Kevin Spacey as Chris Sabian, the negotiator, requested by Danny Roman. THE NEGOTIATOR plays like a game of chess, with both negotiators countering the moves of the other as they try to get at the truth. Both Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey deliver powerhouse performances, which greatly enhances the story and increases one’s overall enjoyment of the film. The strong supporting cast of THE NEGOTIATOR also features David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, J.T. Walsh, Regina Taylor, Siobhan Fallon and Paul Giamatti. Director F. Gary Gray keeps the suspense high and the pace rapid fire, despite the film’s two hour twenty minute running time.

Warner Home Video offers THE NEGOTIATOR wide screen only on a dual layered DVD that handles the film’s extended running time, in addition to its nice array of supplements. THE NEGOTIATOR is presented very close to it 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio and the DVD includes the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. Russell Carpenter’s cinematography is outstanding and this transfer recreates it phenomenally well. The transfer itself is a total knockout, razor sharp with a terrific level of detail. Colors appeared vivid, while flesh tones are completely natural. Saturation is intense, yet there wasn’t a trace of chroma noise on the DVD. This well authored DVD disguises just about every trace of digital compression artifacts.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is a total wow. The front soundstage is tremendous and the rear channels are well deployed to create an enveloping sound field that draws the viewer into every situation. Sound effects swirl around through the discrete channels while the dialogue remains clean and never overpowered by anything else. A French Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has also been encoded into the DVD, as have English and French subtitles.

The interactive menus feature a bit of animation and sound and offer access to the DVDs supplemental features. Supplements include a theatrical trailer for THE NEGOTIATOR as well as several other films. Two documentaries have been included. One documentary takes the viewer behind-the-scenes and features interviews with director, F. Gary Gray, production designer Holger Gross, director of photography Russell Carpenter, and producers David Hoberman and David Nicksay. The other documentary features an interview with a real life hostage negotiator. Production notes and cast biographies/filmographies fill out the supplements.

THE NEGOTIATOR is a terrific thriller and a terrific DVD. You won’t be disappointed taking this disc home tonight. Absolutely recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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