The Siege (1998)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox Martial Law Edition)
Edward Zwick Edward Zwick
Denzel Washington Denzel Washington
Annette Bening Annette Bening
Bruce Willis Bruce Willis
Tony Shalhoub Tony Shalhoub
Sami Bouajila Sami Bouajila

6.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Action, Action Thriller, Political Thriller
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 20, 2007
This was a pretty disposable action flick when it was released back in 1998, featuring a pretty lackluster script, some uneven performances and those 'give me an Oscar' moments that wreak of self-indulgence. Then 9/11 happened, which makes "The Siege" far more curious than before. Looking back on this film, I had forgotten it was released before September 11, 2001 -- but there is no way a film like this would have been released so early in the aftermath of the tragedy. Why? Because it's very much about terrorism -- the same kind that struck us on that day, and the same kind that we 'pretend' to be fighting all around the world.

The film stars Denzel Washington as Anthony Hubbard, the head of the New York City F.B.I., where he pretty much runs the whole show. After a series of terrorist bombings, his city is thrust into chaos. Annette Bening co-stars as Elise Kraft, a C.I.A. operative who is conducting investigations in the city to try and apprehend some of the men behind one of the city's terrorist cells. Bruce Willis co-stars as Major General William Devereaux, who thinks that declaring martial law should be a last resort, even though he seems to contradict himself at times. After the F.B.I. building is bombed and over 600 people slaughtered, martial law is declared in the city of New York and the military are brought in to send Arabs to camps, and to stop another bombing from happening.

Talk about similarities. "The Siege" almost feels like a blue print for 9/11 to some extent. That's not slighting the film at all -- it had no idea what was going to happen. What surprises me most is that no one ever mentioned anything about this film after September 11, even though it deals with the subject matter in a very straight forward way. Back then, the notion of 600 people dying in a building explosion seemed like an interesting plotline for an action flick. Three short years later, it wasn't as much entertaining as it was terrifying. What works about "The Siege" is how is handles the subject matter. It treats terrorism as something that has to be stopped and the characters do whatever they can to stop it. The film gets all too wrapped up in stereotypical movie subplots and resolutions, but for the most part -- it's a premature indictment on a policy that would eventually lead to the events of 9/11.

The performance are somewhat solid. Denzel Washington carries the film, as does Tony Shalhoub as his partner, in one of his best performances. Annette Bening is miscast in her role as the C.I.A. veteran and Bruce Willis is just about as stiff and lifeless as possible as the military brass. It was, however, interesting to watch a film that dealt with three entities of government clashing -- the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the military. "The Siege" has far more meaning now than it ever did when it was first released. Check it out. You'll appreciate it far more. 8/10.
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grain of sand #1: grain of sand - added 11/21/2007, 01:33 PM
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