Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 23
  2. Negative: 3 out of 23
  1. 88
    This little-hyped thriller emerges as a dark-horse winner by reminding us of how pleasurably exciting a popcorn movie can be when it's populated by actors who are in it for more than an exorbitant fee.
  2. 88
    A triumph of style over story, and of acting over characters.
  3. The Negotiator, once it gets going (there's a rather lengthy prosaic setup), is a satisfyingly tense and booby-trapped thriller about the meeting of two relentless minds.
  4. 80
    This tough, crackling thriller from director Gary Gray is one of those rare action movies with something on its mind other than moviestar sneers and incessant big bangs.
  5. Reviewed by: Stephen Thompson
    One of the best by-the-numbers thrillers you'll see this year, thanks to a hot-shot cast.
  6. Reviewed by: Bruce Diones
    F. Gary Gray, the young director of the 1996 female heist film "Set It Off," runs with a good script (by James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox) and gives us the summer's first action film that's as rich in character as it is in suspense.
  7. 75
    Once the initial setup has been accomplished and the film kicks into high gear, it grabs the viewer's attention and holds it for the rest of the running time.
  8. Reviewed by: John Haslett Cuff
    From the film's bravura opening scene to its cute but bloody conclusion, The Negotiator plays out as tautly as any crowd-pleasing action flick since Die Hard,which it emulates with shameless glee.
  9. 70
    This taut crime thriller is a welcome antidote to brainless action extravaganzas in which the mayhem is the message, and rests on two shrewd, perfectly modulated performances.
  10. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    Jackson gives an amazing, nuanced performance as he teeters on the edge of paranoia. Spacey gives a great, toned-down show as I guy who's in over his head trying to find out what the hell is going on.
  11. It's a measure of how pulsating and energetic a visual style director F. Gary Gray has, and how vividly actors Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey come across on screen, that this film is intensely watchable from minute to minute, even though a lot of what's happening doesn't stand up to a moment's scrutiny.
  12. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It's amazing how a sense of humor can turn a formula film into a frolic.
  13. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    The teaming of Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey, two of the most highly regarded actors around, in perfectly fitting roles that call for a battle of wits and wills, proves to be a shrewd piece of casting, and the best element of The Negotiator.
  14. Fortunately, Jackson and Spacey have enough sassy wit and crackling intensity between them to keep The Negotiator from becoming hostage to its own inanity.
  15. 67
    The Negotiator falls short of greatness by a country mile; it's too chatty for its own good sometimes. But it's still a solid shoot-'em-up.
  16. Though the film has its basis in an actual event that took place in St. Louis, it takes on the homogeneous look of many other thrillers in which an emergency escalates into a paramilitary operation.
  17. This is fairly efficient if you can square efficiency with being twice as long as necessary and overly familiar to boot; at least Jackson and Spacey keep it afloat.
  18. The movie has finesse, and the actors have charm, but there are no surprises.
  19. When the mystery is unraveled and the frame-up is revealed, I, personally, had no idea what anyone was talking about.
  20. 50
    Instead of the cat-and-mouse cogitations and psych-outs one might rightly expect from this high concept, we're fobbed off with a lot of sub-Die Hard theatrics and stinko plotting.
  21. A whodunit so bafflingly constructed that you can't even figure out what it is, so the whodun part is superfluous.
  22. The concept of dueling negotiators has strong dramatic potential, but Gray seems more interested in gimmicks and gunshots than in the psychological face-off between sharp-witted foes.
  23. 20
    The Negotiator slogs on for two hours and 20 minutes, and there's hardly a real laugh or a genuine thrill in it.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Oct 1, 2011
    "The Negotiator" is what we call a 'splendid blockbuster'. It has tense clashes between the main characters as well as great performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. A movie you definitely should watch when you have spare time. Full Review »
  2. Apr 8, 2014
    The Negotiator starts off like the usual cop movie, showing the protagonist doing his job on some random situation. And in that respect, it starts out cliché. But by the middle parts, the action heats up and the movie becomes very thrilling and intense, accompanied by a great musical score. And in the middle of all of this, the psychological battle between Spacey and Jackson is the best part. By the end, the movie doesn't take the usual cliché route, and some of the twists are ones you won't see coming. Full Review »
  3. Dec 25, 2013
    Pretty good overall. It certainly doesn't fail to keep you invested in the characters and with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey doing great jobs as expected, this one is taken to another level over your run-of-the-mill thriller. Only complaints are that the ending is quite predictable and disappointing after the rest of the film and that it could have been trimmed a tad, but regardless, this one is still enjoyable. Full Review »