The Negotiator: Wikis


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The Negotiator

Theatrical release poster
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Produced by David Hoberman
Arnon Milchan
Written by James DeMonaco
Kevin Fox
Starring Samuel L. Jackson
Kevin Spacey
David Morse
John Spencer
J.T. Walsh
Ron Rifkin
Paul Giamatti
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Editing by Christian Wagner
Studio Regency Enterprises
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) July 29, 1998 (U.S. release)
Running time 139 min
Language English

The Negotiator is a drama/thriller film that takes place in Chicago and was released on July 29, 1998. It was directed by F. Gary Gray, and stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. This is Warner Bros.'s last film produced with Regency Enterprises until The Fountain.



Lieutenant Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) is a top police hostage negotiator. When he cannot talk a hostage-taker into surrendering, he offers himself as an additional hostage and lures the subject into a position where he can be taken down with the minimum of force, rather than an all-out assault.

Roman is middle-aged and recently married. While celebrating his most recent success, he is approached by his colleague Nathan 'Nate' Roenick (Paul Guilfoyle) who warns him that large sums of money are being embezzled from the Chicago Police Department's disability fund of which Roman is on the board. Roenick has an informant with whom he was at the Police Academy and served with for a while, but refuses to name him.

Later that evening, Roman is summoned via his pager for another meeting with Roenick but instead finds him dead by gunshot wounds.

The case goes badly for Roman when it is assigned to Inspector Niebaum (J.T. Walsh) of the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) whom Roenick claimed was part of the embezzling. Furthermore the gun used to kill Roenick was one of three that were part of a case Roman handled in the past: two were recovered but not the third. Documents found in Roman's house indicate that the money has gone to an offshore account of which he denies any knowledge.

Facing serious charges, suspended from the force and rejected by his friends, including Roenick's widow, a frustrated Roman storms into Niebaum's office and, in the chaos that follows, takes him and several others hostage, including his personal assistant Maggie (Siobhan Fallon), police Cmdr. Grant Frost (Ron Rifkin) and two-bit con-man Rudy Timmons (Paul Giamatti).

With the building evacuated and placed under siege by police and FBI, Roman issues his conditions which include finding Roenick's informant and summoning police Lieutenant Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey), another top negotiator. Sabian, who has been trying rather unsuccessfully to negotiate peace between his sulking wife (Mary Page Keller) and cheeky daughter (Kelsey Mulrooney), arrives on the scene. Roman and Sabian have only met once briefly and know each other through reputation, but Roman wants Sabian because he is from another side of the city, unconnected to the pension fund matter, and should be one of the few people Roman can trust.

Sabian soon finds himself in a cat-and-mouse duel with Roman and a dispute over authority between him, the local cops, and the feds, who disagree over jurisdiction and tactics. Roman of course knows every trick in the book, and the besiegers are hard pressed to find out what is going on in the room with the hostages, since he blocks the entrances to the ventilation units and destroys the security cameras and other surveillance devices.

To make things more complicated, Roman is convinced that "they" (his former colleagues) are out to kill him and it is hard to tell if it is based on really good suspicions or groundless paranoia.

While Sabian tries to come up with a solution, Roman, with the help of Timmons and Maggie, gets into Niebaum's computer and discovers recordings of tappings, including his last conversation with Roenick. He discovers that Roenick himself was the actual informant and had passed his evidence on to the IAD. Niebaum admits that he investigated the embezzling, but then took bribes from the fraudsters. Before he can name names, SWAT members attack and he is killed, apparently deliberately.

When it becomes apparent that Sabian and the police have lost control of the situation, the FBI orders a full-on assault and Sabian runs into the building to warn Roman of his impending death. He and Roman devise a plan and Roman is able to sneak out of the building during the assault by wearing a confiscated SWAT uniform. Sabian has come to the belief that Roman has a case and gives him a chance to prove his innocence. They proceed to Niebaum's house where they find further recordings, but are then attacked by Frost, one of the former hostages, and two other members of Roman's old squad who reveal themselves as the fraudsters and Roenick's killers.

In the course of the confrontation, Sabian suddenly shoots Roman and tells Frost that he will destroy the evidence in return for a share of the pie. Frost agrees and effectively makes a full admission to his crimes, but when he leaves the house it is to find the whole area surrounded by police who have overheard his confession via Sabian's radio. Humiliated, Frost attempts to shoot himself, but Beck quickly shoots his arm and the police seize him. Roman himself, whom Sabian actually shot to wound, is now cleared.

Production notes

The Negotiator was dedicated to J.T. Walsh, who died several months before the film's release.

Several scenes from the movie were also used in the movie Light It Up. One scene where the two snipers set up across the building are shown towards the end of the movie. Another is the scene of the black police officer touching his ear in order to hear his headphone better after Sabian takes over command and broadcast to the all units.

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


Critical response

The film received a generally positive critical response and a score of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.

External links

The Negotiator may refer to:


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Negotiator is a 1998 film about a police negotiator who is accused of murder of his partner he tries to prove his innocence by negotiating with another negotiator.



Chris Sabian

Sabian: (while trying to talk his wife out through the bedroom door) You know, I once talked a man out of blowing up the Sears Tower, but I can't talk my wife out of the bedroom or my kid off a phone.

Sabian's wife: That's because nobody's standing behind you with a big gun!

Sabian: That's debatable.

Sabian: (to Danny) You hurt one of them, you burn up any currency you have to deal with me. They're all I care about. You leaving here walking is a distant second.

Danny Roman

Roman: (while trying to talk down a Hostage Taker through a closed door) Yeah, I like animals better than people sometimes, especially dogs. Dogs are the best. Every time you come home, they act like they haven't seen you in a year. And the good thing about dogs... is they got different dogs for different people. Like pit bulls. The dog of dogs. Pit bulls can be the right man's best friend or the wrong man's worst enemy. You gonna give me a dog for a pet, give me a pit bull. Give me... Raoul. Right, Omar? Give me Raoul!

Omar: (shouting at his Pitbull that is constantly barking) I fucking hate Raoul! Shut the fuck up, asshole! Son of a bitch won't shut up!

Roman: (to his partner Nathan) Hates Raoul. Farley fucked up the list.

Roman: (talking again to Omar through a door) Yeah, I can dig it, Omar. I had a dog like that, a poodle. She didn't bark, though. She pissed on the floor. I hated that dog. But if I was ever depressed, she'd lay her head in my lap, look up at me with those big old eyes. And even though I thought I hated that dog... I loved her. It's like that, ain't it? That love-hate thing.

Omar: (getting more erratic) No more goddamned talk! I can't wait anymore. I want my wife! I want her up here. Or I'll do our daughter. Listen to me... no more talking. I want that bitch or I'll do the girl.

Roman: Omar, I'm doing the best I can here, man.

Omar: I'm not gonna hurt her. I just want her to see me blow my brains out. I want her to think about that when she's sucking that fat prick's cock.

Roman: (trying to setup Omar by a bedroom window for a sniper shot, starts a joke) Omar, a Marine and a sailor are taking a piss. The Marine goes to leave without washing up. The sailor says, "In the Navy... they teach us to wash our hands. The Marine turns to him and says...

Omar: (in sync with Danny Roman) " the Marines they teach us not to piss on our hands.” [sniper takes his shot and wounds Omar in the shoulder ending the siege]

Roman vs Sabian

Roman: You working?

Sabian: Sort of. I was negotiating a truce between my wife and daughter.

Roman: That might prove to be easy by comparison.

Sabian: It wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Sabian: (after Danny has just executed a hostage) You want something... you want something, from me? You thinking killing a man gives you the power to negotiate with me? Why is that, is that because you think you know me? What I am going to do? That I'm gonna give you time? (draws his gun) Don't you fucking count on it. Right now I'm the only thing standing between you and an army that's just itching to come in here and take you out. So you tell me something, Danny - why should I get in their way, huh? Make me believe why I should deal with you ever again.

Roman: I still have hostages. They can still be punished for your mistakes.

Sabian: Is that a threat, Danny? 'Cause that's all I need to walk out of here.

Roman: The rules of engagement state that you don't risk a breech, if the hostage taker is willing to kill in retaliation, and I think I've proved I'm willing to do that.

Roman: (an officer on the above walkway jumps out from behind a column. Roman fires a shot that misses his head by inches) That wasn't an accident and neither will the next one that goes in your head, now get out!

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