The Negotiator

Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0
Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 133:53 minutes Other Extras Featurette - On Location (16 mins)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (90:34)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director F. Gary Gray

Warner Home Video
Starring Samuel L. Jackson 
Kevin Spacey 
David Morse 
Ron Rifkin 
John Spencer
J.T. Walsh
RRP $29.95 Music Graeme Revell

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The Negotiator is one heck of a good thriller, much better than I was expecting.

    The broad plot involves Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson), a hostage negotiator with the Chicago Police Department and a well respected member of the police force. He is also one of the trustees of the police fidelity fund, which has been embezzled to the tune of $2,000,000. After a particularly good hostage resolution, Danny is framed for the embezzlement by the embezzlers. Knowing that he his innocent, but with the circumstantial evidence mounting against him, Danny believes he has no other option but to confront the Internal Affairs inspector who has led the "investigation" against him. The confrontation ends up in a hostage situation with Danny as the protagonist. With his colleagues ranged against him, knowing that he knows every trick they are likely to use, what ensues is a very enthralling negotiating situation, run by an outsider in Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey).

    In the process of the negotiation, Danny must try and uncover the embezzlers and convince Chris that he is innocent. The rest I will not reveal for want of spoiling the enjoyment.

    This really is a quite exceptional film, headed by two great performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. The supporting cast is not too bad either, notably including J.T. Walsh in his final film before his untimely death. F. Gary Gray has crafted a very good film from an exceptionally good script in a damn good location in Chicago.

Transfer Quality


    One word came to mind whilst watching this film - superb. This is a superb transfer.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a gloriously sharp transfer, with some wonderful definition and gorgeous clarity. Without doubt this is one of the best, if not the very best, transfer I have seen. Shadow detail is simply terrific: the film is quite a dark film but at no stage does the transfer lose any clarity at all in the darker sections.

    Whilst there are no bright colours in the film, the colours nonetheless come up as very vibrant indeed, and this again would be the best that I have seen.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts during the film and video artefacts comprised some very, very minor aliasing that is barely noticeable at all. Surprisingly, film artefacts were virtually completely absent from the film, most unusual for a recent film.

    This is a RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 90:34. Whilst the change is noticeable, it is hardly disruptive to the film at all - and far, far better than a flipper.


    If the video is reference quality, then the audio is not too far behind either.

    There are three Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on the DVD: the default English, French and Italian. I listened to the default English soundtrack.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem at all.

    The score was provided by Graeme Revell and it supported the on-screen action very well indeed. Quite a lot of the atmosphere of the film has been derived from the score, but not in an aggressive way at all.

    This is a very well balanced soundtrack, with some quite gorgeous detail to it. The overall sound picture is very good and you are well inserted into the action.

    The subwoofer got a lot of action during the film as the bass channel was a little overmixed in the transfer - which most probably will not complain about.


    Unfortunately, the extras package is not especially great, and is more notable for what is missing rather than what is included. Production Notes are referred to on the slip cover, but if they are on the disc, they must been lost in the negotiations.


    Apart from being gloriously sharp 16x9 enhanced, not otherwise especially notable.

Theatrical Trailer

    Just be aware that this has a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack that appears to be badly mastered as there seems to be no action from the centre speaker and the dialogue comes out in a very recessed manner.

Featurette - On Location

    This is really a collection of interviews with director F. Gary Gray, production designer Holger Gross, producer David Hoberman and executive producer David Nicksay, but nonetheless quite interesting.

R4 vs R1

    Released as part of the Premiere Collection in Region 1, the Region 4 version misses out on:     Assuming that the video quality of Region 1 is as good as Region 4, then Region 1 is probably the way to go. However, I would need to be convinced on the video quality first, as Region 4 is that good that I think I would regrettably forgo the extras thank you very much.


    The Negotiator is a very good film, on a stunning DVD. Do not miss this.

    The overall video quality is of reference quality.

    The overall audio quality is almost of reference quality.

    The extras are reasonable but we do miss on a quite a few compared to Region 1.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
20th September 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL