My God, if you can just sit through the first grueling 30 minutes of this movie, you will be rewarded with another hour and 45 minutes that aren't quite so God-damn grueling. That first half hour is some of the shittiest police buddy-cop movie crap you'll see on the big screen. Like a really piss-poor episode of some TV cop show. The rest is a crazy-ass mix of thriller and a new genre we'll call "hostage-negotiation" film, but at least it isn't so freakin' stereotypical.
Sam Jackson plays a hostage negotiator, who we see through a painfully obvious opening is a good fucking man, new husband, and all around hero cop that doesn't play by the rules. Even the TV news tells us that Jackson is no stranger to putting his ass on the line for the sake of the little guy. His partner is the obligatory white guy without the guts to do likewise, but who has a stinking heart of gold. At the requisite cop celebration in a bar for Jackson's latest job well done, whitie tells Jackson that he knows some shit about who is stealing from thje cops disability fund. Next thing you know, the white guy gets his head blown off by the corrupt cops for knowing the wrong information and Jackson gets framed. Doesn't sound too fucking original: the loose-cannon cop up against the system, ala Dirty Harry, Serpico, etc. etc.
It gets a little better. In Jackson's attempt to get to the bottom of the whole mess, he makes hostages of a cop he thinks is corrupt, a "humorous" weasel and a "smart-mouthed" secretary. His goal is to get to the bottom of the corruption and clear his fucking name. So, now that we have all the fucking stereotypes lined-up, we can start the movie for real. The negotiator demands a negotiator. Jackson, being a cop and all that jazz, knows what tricks his corrupt compatriots have up their fucking sleeves, so he beats them at their own hostage negotiation game. Jackson demands smooth-as-shit colleague Kevin Spacey to be his negotiator.
Spacey must deal with Jackson, who is a pretty nasty hothead, and he has to negotiate with the corrupt cops, who are less interested in negotiating and more interested in blowing Jackson's fucking brains out. And so it goes, until, surprise, surprise, Jackson proves his innocence, the bad cops are caught, and despite vast amounts of carnage and property damage, we are led to believe that Jackson will not get in trouble for all of this crap.
The biggest damn problem with this movie is that it wants to be way more exciting than its subject material. Two negotiators negotiating is not my idea of two action packed hours at the drive-in. Director F. Gary Gray seems to have recognized this, so he throws in every fucking thing but the kitchen sink. There isn't a minute of the movie where Gray isn't too worried with boring his audience that he has to cut to crowded streets or helicopters flying around. He's always trying to juice the action with people running around shooting guns. Second, Jackson is a hero at the end, even though the prick was shooting up everyone he could throughout the movie. The only reason he doesn't kill anyone is because the bastard's a poor shot at crucial moments, even though we are shown early on that he's a crackerjack with the pistol. The characters that Jackson holds hostage are the characters that are required by the Hollywood screenplay manual. But other than fulfilling those stereotypes, they aren't in the least bit interesting. They just play out their pre-destined fucking fates. And the ending. Jesus Fucking Christ, what a joke! Jackson escapes a building teeming with cops and is aided by Spacey in going to another cop's house to collect evidence. And the cops don't even suspect or catch up with him until he has just barely gotten the information he needs. BULLSHIT!
Finally, and here's a bitch I got against all of the assholes in Hollywood. When they make a supposed suspense movie they do it by not telling us anything until the end. We're supposed to be surprised, but we aren't because they refused to give us enough
I give it a Pretty Piss-Poor.