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Case Number 02831: Small Claims Court

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Hostage Negotiator

Paramount // 2001 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // April 30th, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

Who will save me from 90 minutes of involuntary imprisonment?

The Case

When the FBI needs someone incredibly competent and committed to talk terrorists and rock tumblers out of their potential criminal capers, they scan the available agents…and come up with Theresa Foley, loving mother, suspicious spouse, and Hostage Negotiator numero…well, lets say about veintitrés or veinticuatro. This Stockholm syndrome stifler specializes in captive specific responses, using her uncanny ability to parley a book of matches into expectant mothers or greasy cheeseburgers into crime scene bloodbaths. She is so successful that she even has an outside job teaching Clarice Starling about how to properly deal a donut into a full body cavity search at the FBI's head honcho hacienda. But when a bank robbing retard she thwarts vows revenge, it's not long before our criminal Monty Hall is looking over her shoulder, and staring down the gun muzzle of…her mentally deranged husband? Who has been stealing money from the bureau for years? And this prime example of perceptive criminal investigation never had one waking bit of knowledge about it? Okay then. Anyway, when hubby takes a year long vacation to the minimum-security safe house, Foley flees the Feds and ends up watching overweight women try on stretch pants as part of a local department store shoplifting squad. But her skills as an envoy are again put to the test when a vengeance-vowing peon from the past decides to turn her downtown department store workplace into one big Fourth of July firecracker. And it isn't even summertime.

Hostage Negotiator is made for television tediousness gussied up with DVD bells and whistles, hoping some poor dope will think it's a big time, action packed feminist take on Dog Day Afternoon. But Scrappy Doo, that little animated rat dropping, has more inherent puppy power than this irritating exercise in vagueness. Hoping to mix suspenseful standoffs with domestic dilemmas, Hostage Negotiator spends far too much of its time in kitchen sink drama and not enough in tricking the bad guys. You will learn more about the fine art of detainee discussion watching an episode of Saved By the Belle, the Shah of Iran Years. Flabbergastingly bad, this movie asks us to accept quiet a few borderline brain dead ideas. We are supposed to believe that this female figiter, who can barely keep her household together, is the FBI's number one agreement arranger? That when push comes to shove, the bureau will take the perjurious word of her slimy psychotic husband, who has spent far too much time deep undercover with miscreant mob guys, over the honest ethics of their prized pact maker? And we are supposed to support her well thought out decision to run into the arms of ex-hunk/partner/paramour Danny the minute she feels betrayed, threatened, or frisky? Basically an idea in search of a less convoluted plot and some believable character to make it seem less preposterous, Hostage Negotiator is a dull, derivative crime drama offering nothing but prima facia thrills, some lip service to dealing with stand off situations, and little else.

This barely passable pilot style film was obviously fashioned as a starring vehicle for the rough and randy Gail O'Grady, late of NYPD Blue and other, mostly forgettable television fare. Hoping to capitalize on her police prowess from the notorious naughty word and backside showing ABC series, you can actually feel the demographical notes and marketing manipulation going on behind the so-called creative process. It's not good enough to have a show about a highly qualified FBI agent; NO, let's make her a devoted family woman. And THEN, let's make her husband a nut, a slowly melting over into the dark side of the force felon who wants to reconnect with his FBI roots via random acts of stalking, extortion, mayhem, and attempted murder. Oh yeah, and just to make sure that our sultry starlet is not left up sex creek without a viable "paddle," let's thrown in the broody bo-hunk Brian Bloom as her ex-checker Danny. Top it all off with the escaped con on an undertaking of retribution, and it can't miss. Or maybe it can. Hostage Negotiator doesn't quite know what to do with all of these clashing elements, so it merely lets them play out in long, pointless scenes of endless talking, sullen looks, and minimal connection to reality. We learn very little about the art of hostage negotiating, even less about keeping a household together, and by the time you get to the "surprise" ending, which has been telegraphed from around "restraining order" time, you are left feeling like you've spent six months in a Turkish prison for smuggling Sweet Tarts.

At least Paramount gets to apply its stripped skeletal mentality to the release of this non-title on DVD. Instead of treating it like some "must have a commentary" special edition or "can't be enjoyed without a featurette" director's cut, we get a full frame image that is overly dark, but more or less defect free. We also get a fairly decent Dolby Digital Stereo soundtrack that intensifies the few scenes of action and/or violence. But as for extra content, this disc is as free of bonus material as Hostage Negotiator is devoid of compelling drama. It's harder to say what is more disappointing with the issuance of this film to the digital market: the fact that it actually exists as a saleable item, the fact that somebody may actually want to buy it, or (probably the most disturbing) that there is some executive sitting in some office somewhere determining that junk like this deserves a home video release. This pedestrian, ponderous piece of product puke will satisfy neither your craving for thrills nor your bargaining skills. About the only viable deal you can make upon finding Hostage Negotiator in your DVD machine is to latch onto one of Foley's patented give and takes; a bottle full of poison for the chance NOT to watch this film. And no one said anything about an antidote, did they?

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 18

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Genres:
• Bad
• Crime
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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