The Negotiator (DVD)

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The Negotiator (DVD)

The Negotiator is a 1998 American action thriller film directed by F. Gary Gray. It stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey as two expert hostage negotiators and Chicago police lieutenants. The film was released in the United States on July 29, 1998, receiving generally positive reviews from critics and grossing $88 million worldwide.


Lieutenant Danny Roman, a top hostage negotiator for the Chicago Police Department s east precinct, is told by his partner, Nate Roenick, that according to an informant whom he refuses to name, members of their own unit are embezzling large amounts of money from the department s disability fund, for which Roman is a board member. Nate tells Roman that his informant hasn t told Internal Affairs because he thinks they might be involved as well. Roman goes to meet Nate, but finds him murdered in his car with a bullet wound in his head and his car window destroyed by gunfire before he can talk to him, and a squad car arrives on the scene within seconds, considering Roman a prime suspect.

Matters become worse for Roman when IAD inspector Terence Niebaum, whom Nate s informant suspected of involvement in the embezzlement, is assigned to investigate the murder. After the gun that killed Nate, found in the lake next to Nate s car, is linked to a case Roman had worked on, Niebaum and other investigators search the Roman house and discover papers for an offshore bank account with a deposit equal to one of the amounts of money embezzled. Roman is forced to surrender his gun and badge, and his colleagues are skeptical of his protests of innocence. With embezzlement and homicide charges pending, Roman storms into Niebaum s office and demands answers about who set him up. When Niebaum refuses to answer, Roman takes Niebaum, his administrative assistant Maggie, Roman s commander and friend Grant Frost and con man Rudy Timmons as hostages.

With the building evacuated and placed under siege by his own CPD unit and the FBI, Roman issues his conditions: his badge, locating Nate s informant and killer, a department funeral if he dies and summoning police lieutenant Chris Sabian, the city s other top negotiator. Roman believes he can trust Sabian, because he talks for as long as possible, sees tactical action as a last resort, and being from the CPD s west precinct eliminates him as a suspect in the disability fund scheme. Sabian clashes with Roman s precinct, particularly commander Adam Beck, but is given temporary command of the unit after they hastily attempt a breach that goes awry, resulting in SWAT officers Scott and Markus becoming hostages and Scott is supposedly killed.

Roman trades Frost to Sabian in exchange for restoring the building s electricity, it having been turned off after the hostage execution. With help from Rudy and Maggie, Roman accesses Niebaum s computer and discovers the scheme: corrupt officers submitted false disability claims that were processed by an unknown insider on the disability fund s board. He also discovers recordings of wiretaps, including a conversation between Nate and his widow that suggests he was going to meet his informant before he was killed. Sabian, using the information Roman provided, claims to have located Nate s informant in a bid to get Roman to release the hostages. Roman realizes Sabian is bluffing when Niebaum s files reveal Nate himself was the IAD informant.

When Roman threatens to expose Niebaum in his office s open window, leaving him vulnerable to sniper fire, Niebaum admits that Nate gave him wiretaps, implicating three of their squad mates in the embezzlement scheme: Allen, Hellman and Argento. When Niebaum confronted the guilty officers, he received a bribe from them to cover up their crimes. The guilty officers attempted to bribe Nate, but he refused to take the money, resulting in his murder. Niebaum says he doesn t know who the ringleader is, but that he has safely hidden the taps corroborating the three officers guilt. The same corrupt officers have secretly entered the room via the air vents under the pretext of being part of a team to take Roman out in case he started killing hostages; upon hearing Niebaum s confession, they open fire and murder him before he can reveal where he has hidden the wiretaps. Roman single-handedly fends them and the rest of his squad off, using the flashbangs he seized from the two officers in the previous failed breach.

Believing that Sabian and the police can t resolve the situation, the FBI assume jurisdiction over the operation, cease negotiations, relieve the lieutenant of his command, and order a full breach. As Roman prepares for his eventual arrest, Maggie tells him that Niebaum also worked from his house and could have kept Nate s wiretaps there. Sabian confronts Roman to warn him about the breach, and the latter reveals that Scott is still alive and gagged with duct tape. Sabian begins to believe in Roman s innocence and gives him a chance to prove his case. While the FBI and SWAT raid the building and rescue the hostages, Roman disguises himself as a SWAT member and escapes through the vents.

The two negotiators proceed to Niebaum s house, but they can t find the wiretaps. The police arrive and the corrupt officers enter the house, but they back off as Frost enters and tries to talk Roman down. Sabian observes Frost discreetly locking the front door and taking one of the loaded guns and realizes that he is the ringleader of the conspiracy, the insider on the disability fund s board and Roenick s killer. In front of Frost, Sabian seemingly kills Roman and offers to destroy the evidence on floppy disks they have uncovered in return for a cut of Frost s take. Frost agrees and effectively makes a full admission to his and the other three officers crimes before crushing the floppy disks and shooting Niebaum s computer. When Frost exits the house, he discovers that Sabian only wounded Roman, who used a police radio microphone to broadcast his entire confession to the police surrounding the area. Humiliated, Frost attempts to commit suicide, but is shot in the shoulder by Beck and arrested along with the other corrupt officers. As Roman is loaded into an ambulance with his wife, Sabian gives his badge to him and departs.


  • Samuel L. Jackson as Lieutenant Danny Roman
  • Kevin Spacey as Lieutenant Chris Sabian
  • David Morse as Commander Adam Beck
  • Ron Rifkin as Commander Grant Frost
  • John Spencer as Chief Al Travis
  • J. T. Walsh as Inspector Terence Niebaum
  • Siobhan Fallon as Maggie
  • Paul Giamatti as Rudy Timmons
  • Regina Taylor as Karen Roman
  • Bruce Beatty as Markus
  • Michael Cudlitz as Palermo
  • Carlos Gómez as Eagle
  • Tim Kelleher as Argento
  • Dean Norris as Scott
  • Nestor Serrano as Hellman
  • Doug Spinuzza as Tonray
  • Leonard Thomas as Allen
  • Stephen Lee as Farley
  • Robert David Hall as Cale Wangro

In addition, Paul Guilfoyle appears in the uncredited role of Nate Roenick, Danny Roman‘s partner, whose murder precipitates the action of the film. Tom Bower also appears uncredited as Omar, an unhinged man whom Danny negotiates with at the beginning of the film.

Production notes

The film is dedicated to J. T. Walsh, who died several months before the film s release.

The building used for the IAD office is 77 West Wacker Drive, the headquarters of United Airlines.

Factual basis

This film s conspiracy plotline is loosely based on the pension fund scandal in the St. Louis Police Department in the late 1980s and early 1990s.


Box office

The Negotiator made $10.2 million in its opening weekend, finishing first at the box office. It went on to finish with a worldwide gross of $88 million. Warner Bros. spent $40.3 million promoting the film, and lost an estimated $13 million after all revenues and expenses were factored together.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 74% based on 57 reviews, and an average rating of 6.77/10. The website s critical consensus reads: The Negotiator s battle of wits doesn t wholly justify its excessive length, but confident direction by F. Gary Gray and formidable performances makes this a situation audiences won t mind being hostage to. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score 62 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating generally favorable reviews . Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of A on an A+ to F scale.

Emanuel Levy of Variety wrote: Teaming for the first time Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson, arguably the two best actors of their generation, in perfectly fitting roles is a shrewd move and the best element of this fact-inspired but overwrought thriller. Roger Ebert, in his Chicago Sun-Times review, calls The Negotiator a triumph of style over story, and of acting over characters...Much of the movie simply consists of closeups of the two of them talking, but it s not simply dialogue because the actors make it more—invest it with conviction and urgency...

Mick LaSalle, in his less-than-enthusiastic review for the San Francisco Chronicle, had the most praise for Spacey s performance: Kevin Spacey is the main reason to see The Negotiator...Spacey s special gift is his ability to make sanity look radiant...In The Negotiator, as in L.A. Confidential, he gives us a man uniquely able to accept, face and deal with the truth.


Saturn AwardBest Action or Adventure FilmDavid Hoberman & Arnon MilchanNominated
American Black Film FestivalBlack Film Award for Best FilmWon
Black Film Award for Best DirectorF. Gary GrayWon
Black Film Award for Best ActorSamuel L. JacksonNominated
Blockbuster Entertainment AwardFavorite Actor - Action/AdventureNominated
NAACP Image AwardOutstanding Actor in a Motion PictureNominated
















2h 20min


Awards, 2 wins & 6 nominations


F. Gary Gray


James DeMonaco, Kevin Fox


Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse

Produced by

Albert Beveridge, David Hoberman, Arnon Milchan, David Nicksay, Robert Stone, Webster Stone

Music by

Graeme Revell

Cinematography by

Russell Carpenter

Film Editing by

Christian Wagner

Casting By

David Rubin

Production Design by

Holger Gross

Art Direction by

Kevin Ishioka

Set Decoration by

Richard C. Goddard

Costume Design by

Francine Jamison-Tanchuck

Makeup Department

Linda Boykin-Williams, Marietta Carter-Narcisse, Louis Lazzara, LunYé Marsh, Tara McCarthy, Tania McComas, Carol A. O Connell, Robert L. Stevenson, Alicia M. Tripi, Victoria Wood, Allan A. Apone

Production Management

Kevin Braker, Herbert W. Gains, Karyn McCarthy

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Jorge L. Baron, David R. Ellis, Don H. Julien, Joel Kramer, Alicia Lewis, Chitra F. Mojtabai, Philip C. Pfeiffer, Jason Roberts, Benjamin Rosenberg, Barry K. Thomas, Jon Mallard, Robert Schick

Art Department

Aaron A. Akins Jr., Bethany Andell, Sam Anderson, Ron Ashmore, Terry Baughman, Cliff Berns, Mark Boucher, Bruce Brewer, Alan Broadbent, Kenneth Brooks, David J. Chamerski, Anthony Ciraolo, David Conaghan, Cora Lee Coomber, Matayas Gila, Anthony Godfrey, Donald Gross, Harry N. Haase, Paul Harding, Richard Hausfeld, Keith Haynes, Chuck Herrmann, Patrick Hickman, A. Todd Holland, Luis G. Hoyos, Chris Hudecek, Tracy Hutchinson, Bruce Jepsen, Billy L. Joslin, Scott Kennedy, Anthony Lattanzio, Bob Lucas, C.J. Maguire, Brett Mangiarelli, J.D. McCarthy, Jody Miller, Terry L. Miller, Paul A. Minitello, Joel Mitchell, Steven O Bannon, James O Brian, Princeton T. Powell, Rudy Reachi, Sandra Renfroe, Richard Reynolds, Johnny Ruiz, Mike Rutgard, Matt Sanders, John Schacht, Gloria Sevarino, Jeremy Sforza, Mike Sforza, Wayne Smith, Barbara Ann Spencer, Ben Sprague, Jim Zemansky, Jeff O Bannon

Sound Department

Neal J. Anderson, Bill Banyai, Bob Baron, Paul Timothy Carden, Dino Dimuro, Richard Dwan Jr., Jörg Elsner, Victor Ray Ennis, Dana LeBlanc Frankley, Mark Gordon, Doug Hemphill, Philip A. Hess, Hanson Hsu, Chris Jargo, Dennis Johnson, Randy Kelley, Mark R. La Pointe, Lee W. Lebaigue, Dave MacDonald, Paul Massey, Glenn T. Morgan, James Moriana, Philip D. Morrill, Rick Morris, Gary Mundheim, Mark Ormandy, Michael A. Patillo, Matt Patterson, Michael A. Reagan, Blair Scheller, Mark P. Stoeckinger, Peter Michael Sullivan, Robert Ulrich, Jeffrey Wilhoit, Russell Williams II, Kerry Dean Williams, Scott Wolf, James Wright, Ronald L. Wright, David W. Alstadter, Gregory Hainer

Special Effects by

Roy Augenstein, Hal Bigger, Roger Lifsey, John D. Milinac, Robert L. Olmstead, Bruce Richter, Daniel Sudick

Visual Effects by

Thomas Lopatka, Jeff Wells


Bruce Benson, Troy Brown, Mike Cameron, Erik Cord, Kiante Elam, Kenny Endoso, Cliff Fleming, Cory Fleming, Ralph Gonzalez, Jeff Imada, Joel Kramer, Steven Lambert, Rick LeFevour, Stacy Logan, Billy D. Lucas, John Meier, Cazimir Milostan, Carl Paoli, Linda Perlin, Randy Popplewell, Gary Robert, Jimmy N. Roberts, Mic Rodgers, John T. Scanlon, Randy Walker, Kay Whipple, Keith Woulard, Alan Wurtzel, Spitfire Brown, Brennan Dyson, Tom Elliott, Randy Peters, Charlie Picerni, Pat Romano, Mary Ann Schmidt

Camera and Electrical Department

Rebecca Allen, Larry J. Aube, Nico Bally, Art Bartels, Jack Bauer, Sam Bertone, Lee Blasingame, Kirk Bloom, Alphonse Blumenthal, Michael Brennan, Glenn Brown, Rick Brown, John Buckley, Gary Capo, Robert C. Carlson, Kimberly Case, Tom Cherry, Eugene D. Clinesmith, Tom Connole, Michael J. Coo, Ken Cottengim Jr., Sean Patrick Crowell, Pat Dames, Gerrit Dangremond, John Dumas, Gary Dunham, Brad Edmiston, Sam Emerson, Bill Fine Jr., John Fine, Marty Fraser, John P. Friday, R. Scott Goodrich, Arthur D. Halverson, Frank Hanes, Jon Haney, D.J. Harder, Tom Holloway, Steve Irwin, Mark Jackson, Stephen Johnstone, Tom Jordan, Aaron Katz, David Katz, Bob King, Jerry D. Knight, Craig Kohtala, George Kohut, Michael Lange, Thomas Lappin, Daniel F. Larkin, Jason Leeds, Anthony J. Lullo, Michelle Mann, Marc Marino, Steven Matthys, Scott McGowan, David Morenz, Rob Morey, Chris Moseley, J. Michael Muro, Patrick Murray, Leo J. Napolitano, Troy Osman, Phil Pastuhov, John Pingry, Ray Pope, Craig Price, Scott Ronnow, Andy Smith, Stuart A. Spohn, R. Michael Stringer, Michael Torchia, Eric Tramp, Renee Treyball, Susan Turcot, Greg Van Horn, Ronald L. Vargas Jr., Dave Walker, Marta Weiss, Mark Wineman, R. Michael Yope, Paolo Cascio, Ray Conchado, Bob Gomez, Eric Leach, Glen Magers, Larry Markart, Chris Peterson, Philip C. Pfeiffer, Brian Rosso, Bennett Spencer, Bill Vergos, Christopher Wiggins, Steven J. Winslow, Giovanni Zelko

Casting Department

Jennifer DeCesare, Scott French, Barbara Harris, Ronna Kress, Karen Peake, Tammy L. Smith, Rachel Tenner, Regina Prokop, Anna Liza Recto, Jennifer Ricchiazzi

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Jane Blank, Michael Castellano, Gloria Coffey-Sharrieff, John Lemons, Joseph T. Mastrolia, Katrina Mastrolia, Frank Perry Rose, Katherine Wright, Gina Marie Ome

Editorial Department

Gilbert Carreras, Tony Ciccone, Laura Lynn Ellinger, Jeannie Burns Hardie, Mo Henry, Joe Mosca, Fred C. Vitale, Steve Kraus

Location Management

Gerard Averill, Brady Breen, Steve Cudzilo, Scott Devereaux, Nena Girsch, Don J. Hug, Murray Miller

Music Department

Dell Hake, Paul Haslinger, The Hollywood Studio Symphony, The Hollywood Symphony Orchestra, John Kurlander, Gregg Nestor, Graeme Revell, Tim Simonec, Clifford J. Tasner, Dan Wallin, Brian Williams, Joshua Winget, Patti Zimmitti, Tom Boyd, Kevin Dorsey, Norman Ludwin, Ashley Revell, Eric Rigler

Script and Continuity Department

Sharron Reynolds

Transportation Department

Joseph A. Alfano, Michael J. Barcal, Bridgett Baron, Sheridan Ross Batson, Anthony Belmonte, Gene Biernot, Brumby Broussard, Joseph Bruno, Scott Buckingham, Charles B. Burandt, Leonard T. Casey Sr., Victor W. Chin, James M. Clarke, Guy DeSimone, Bobby Enriquez, Michael J. Farej, Keith Filkins, Johnny Gomez, Steve Hardy, William F. Hogan, Brian Kahn, Brian Kennedy, Kenny Koons, Tony Lizio, Joseph Losavio, Howie Mandel, Sheila Mandel, Michael J. Martin, Jaymes S. Matsurak, Danny Maxwell, Pat McGowean, Larry McKisic, William J. Novelli, William E. Palmer, Peter Pantaleo, Randy Peters, Joe Polizzi, Anthony Pomonis, Ron Poniewaz, Darien Reid, Charles Renfroe, Othar D. Richey II, Brian A. Ruiz, John Schmidt, Howard Taft, Robert Turko, Daniel Valente, Jeff Verdick, Jay Weintraub, Michael Zebell, Thomas O Donnell

Additional Crew

Ed Arneson, Darius Aubry, Brian D. Austin, Shauna Beal, Michael Beavers, Marla L. Blanton, Angi Bones, Bob Brannon, Cookie Carosella, Mark Chambers, Marila Chappelle, Daniel Joseph Chester, Michael Choi, Neetu Chopra, Sam Clark, Renee D. Czarapata, Bonnie Daniels, Carlo De Rosa, Nelson Drake, Leslie Anne Engel, Missy Eustermann, Sara Flamm, Cliff Fleming, Humberto Flores, Marty Fraser, Jamala Gaither, Oanas Alberto Garcia, Will Gatlin, Damon Glaspie, Brother Hakeem, Melissa Hendricks, David Henri, Amy James, Kyle Jetton, Robin Jorden, Jerry Katz, Andy Kim, Vanessa Lanier, Robert A. Levine, Tracy Loudon, Pat Lydon, Brian Michaels, Miguel Mojica, Melody L. Moses, David Muscatine, Jean Nakahara, Charlene Norman, Melissa Nusbaum, Elizabeth O Donnell, Bettina Tendler O Mara, Noel Olken, Jeremy Oswald, Connie Papineau, Willie Radcliff, Rozzana Ramos, Edward J. Reardon, Theresa Rubino, James Sabatini, Ericka N. Shane, Triby Sheeser, Roy Siber, Siri Sirishambhand, Gerrick T. Smith, Lisa Swain, Leonard L. Thomas, Patrick Tillmann, Randy Walker, Zelig Walters, Phillippa Weaver, Mike Welch, Mono Wilborn, Cynthia Wise, Jennifer Wojic, Daryl Dogman Young, Kyle Cooper, Lori Freitag-Hild, Harry Lu, Scott A. Martin, Sunni-Ali Powell, Todd Rheingold, Rick Shuster, Warren Smith, Chuck Speed, Ian Zander


Wendy Fuller-Reich, Rich Moskal, Jim Runion, Ron VerKuilen, J.T. Walsh


Action, Crime, Drama


New Regency Productions, Mandeville Films, New Regency Productions


Germany, USA







ImDb Rating Votes


Metacritic Rating


Short Description

The Negotiator is a 1998 American action thriller film directed by F. Gary Gray. It stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey as two expert hostage negotiators and Chicago police lieutenants. The film was released in the United States on July 29, 1998, receiving generally positive reviews from critics and grossing $88 million worldwide.

Box Office Budget

$50,000,000 (estimated)

Box Office Opening Weekend USA


Box Office Gross USA


Box Office Cumulative Worldwide Gross



Police conspiracy,opening action scene,police shootout,last film role for actor,fbi federal bureau of investigation