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Samuel L. Jackson is Lt. Danny Roman, a highly decorated officer for the Chicago Police Department who specializes in negotiating with criminals who threaten to harm themselves or others. Roman, is so good, that he puts himself into potentially threatening situations that would endanger himself as well as other members of the police force, but consistently manages to win out in the end.

Negotiator, The
Movie
Following another successful negotiation, Roman is informed by his partner, Nate (Paul Guilfoyle), that some of his colleagues within the department have been laundering money from the retirement fund, two million dollars to be exact. However, before his Nate can give him more information, he is murdered. This action sets up the entire premise of this film. Further investigation by police officers show all evidence pointing to Roman for the crimes. And this, as they say, is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Roman charges into the Internal Affairs Division office and demands to be told the truth, and holds hostages until the truth is uncovered.

Kevin Spacey also stars as the all-star negotiator, Chris Sabian, from another police district who is not a part of Roman’s department and who is a stranger to Roman’s problem. Spacey is outstanding (as usual) giving a top-notch performance as an expert negotiator who can manipulate criminals and troubled individuals into giving in without any collateral injuries or deaths.

“The Negotiator” is a smart, taut thriller/drama that moves at the pace of a Nascar driver in the Indy 500.

Packed with strong performances, and a great supporting cast including, David Morse, Ron Rifkin and John Spencer, director F. Gary Gray has presented a fine follow-up to his previous urban thriller, “Set It Off.”

Video
This film is presented in its original theatrical aspect of 2.35:1 and is anamorphic. As far as the transfer is concerned, it couldn’t look better! The picture is sharp, crisp and the colors glow! Since most of the film takes place in the nighttime hours, the blacks also come out strong, deep and rich. Well done Warner Bros.!

Negotiator, The
Audio
Just as the transfer, the audio track on “The Negotiator” is outstanding. Warner Bros. has presented this DVD in Dolby Digital in both English and French. The dialogue is crisp, clear, while the surround sounds are voluptuous. Once again, Warner Bros. has stepped up to the challenge with this audio track, too bad I couldn’t say that much about the extra features.

Extras
Warner Bros. has included a minor list of special features on this DVD, and it's unfortunate, as I would have liked to have seen more. Such a great film, with so few extras does not make for a stellar DVD edition.

First off, there are two featurettes, “The Eleventh Hour: Stories from Real Negotiators” and “On Location.”

“The Eleventh Hour” featurette, is an interesting documentary about actual cases. Sadly, it is too short, running nearly seven minutes. I wanted more, I wanted to hear more, and I wanted to see more.

The “On Location” featurette, is slightly longer at over 16 minutes, and offers a standard making-of feature about the production of the film.  Somewhat interesting and engaging, but after a while, seeing so many “making-of” featurettes, they all start to look and sound the same and this one doesn’t appear to offer anything revolutionary, despite the interesting subject of this film.

Warner Bros. has also included the theatrical trailer and Reel Recommendations, which includes Sphere, A Time To Kill, L.A. Confidential and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Negotiator, The
More importantly, my complaint against this edition of the DVD, is where the heck is the director’s commentary!? I would have loved to hear F. Gary Gray comment on some of the logistical portions of making this film. Or for that matter hearing Spacey and Jackson discuss the film. As a part of Warner Bros. “Premiere Collection,” I don’t think this is all that special due to the absence of a commentary track!

Overall
I think this film is great, which offers a solid punch. The video and audio specs are outstanding... but sadly, the extra features, could have been trumped up a bit more. Overall though, as a film, this one is a great thriller for those cold winter nights.


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