Directed by F Gary Gray
Written by James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox
Samuel L Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spenser, JT Walsh, Siobhan Fallon, Paul Giamatti, Regina Taylor, Michael Cudlitz, Dean Norris
Chicago hostage negotiator Lt. Danny Roman (Jackson) becomes the hostage taker, after he finds himself being set up as the mastermind behind stealing money out of a police pension fund, and also the murder of his partner.
When his team want to take him out (as some of them may be responsible for taking the money), Danny demands fellow negotiator Chris Sabien (Spacey) to be the one to investigate and ‘talk him down’.
Super fun late 90’s action yarn, starts off with some really great opening credits – both the theme and the stylistics are one of my favourite opening credits of all time. This is something that I find that I miss in more modern movies. I have mentioned before, I think the late 90’s produced the best quality type of filmmaking.
Gray, who was just 28 when he made this film, was fresh of the cultural success of Friday when he made this. His foray into action film making is very well done.
This is Jackson in one of his best roles, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen him phone in a role. Spacey in a pre “me too” role, is also equally brilliant in the supporting role. The pair play well together, and considering Spacey doesn’t show up until almost a third way through the movie, he more than makes up for it after this.
There is a mini whodunnit with who is responsible for stealing the funds, and the outcome of this is somewhat underwhelming, and could have been done better. One key moment of the film is barely addressed if at all. There is a extended cast of characters (and pre fame folks like Cudlitz), and it is almost hard to keep track of who is who at times.
There are some very cliched scenes thrown in for dramatic effect, such as the handing in the gun and badge scene – (what did the bullet represent?)
It should also be noted this is another one of JT Walsh’s posthumous villain performances (the other two being Breakdown, previously reviewed and Pleasantville – which is on the list), and he excels here too.
I have always really enjoyed this film, and re-watching in a critique mind, I still very much enjoyed it. This may have been due to nostalgia.