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Anthony ‘Hub’ Hubbard (Denzel Washington), the head of the joint FBI/NYPD terrorism task force, is the man charged with keeping New York City safe from an array of threats that seem to grow more terrifying with every headline. Elise Kraft (Annette Bening) is a CIA operative, now undercover, with important sources in the Arab-American community and ambiguous ties to the suspects. They are forced to work together, forging an uneasy alliance, as the incidents of terror threaten to paralyze the city. But before they can accomplish their mission, the public's clamor for safety forces the hand of the President - to declare a State of Emergency and ask help from the military. General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis) is a thoughtful, cautious warrior who well knows the dangers of bringing the army onto the streets of an American city. As the pursuit of the terrorists becomes more desperate, these three lives become intertwined in a terrible and frightening dilemma, threatening the fabric of a democratic society.

"Fast furious action, spectacular stunts and Denzel Washington magic elevate The Siege into an upper class action thriller that delivers genuine thrills and excitement. Edward Zwick is a director who knows how to marry the crafts of his team and maximises on sharp editing, effective cinematography and a spine tingling soundtrack to package up the goods. The story gives genuine insight into the fascinating Arab culture, while the down-to-earth script is intelligently structured with solid dramatic and human elements, bringing together complex and multi-layered individuals. Washington is superb in the lead role; he is authoritative, calm and eminently charismatic. His pairing with Annette Bening generates sparks, surprise and a lot of sass. Bening must have revelled in this role as a down to earth, gutsy woman full of surprises. And she is splendid. It's one of the best women's roles I've seen all year. Tony Shalhoub provides some wonderful moments but Bruce Willis is rather wooden as the arrogant heavy handed general. If it's first rate, heart stomping action with a great story and stars you want – The Siege is it!"
Louise Keller

"Not since the best of the dry spy movies of the 60s has there been a spy thriller as intelligent and as gripping as The Siege. This is achieved by its forcefully defined characters and its political commitment. There is no doubt about the message: the zealot, whether terrorist or anti-terrorist, is always a well meaning but misguided missile in search of a tragedy. (Ironically, it has a line of chilling dialogue for Bening’s Elise; "The most committed wins.") But the view that zealots and fanatics of any kind are dangerous is a valuable editorial position, evoking in my mind the car bumper sticker, "All extremists should be shot." Denzel Washington and Annette Bening give their career high performances here, totally inhabiting their characters – and they are good characters to inhabit. Bening nails one of the most interesting female anti-heroines of the 90s, and Washington creates a satisfyingly complex good guy – and between them, there’s a slow fuse burning. While the film is fully engaged as a genre action thriller exploring the shadowy world of international terrorism, it never forgets that it is individual human beings that fascinate us most. No matter what their motivations. Producer Lynda Obst, who was here in November 1998 at a film biz conference, is a passionate producer with a mission to bring quality films to mass audiences. This is one."
Andrew L. Urban

"Since the demise of the Cold War, Hollywood has been in search of the proverbial cultural villain to exorcise in the name of entertainment. The Siege is a film that sums up the director's own obsessions with the army, bureaucracy, and the power of government, and a film American critics may admire for the wrong reasons. Not that this is especially a bad film, and in fact, its first half is compelling. If one forgets that the film reinforces America's own intrusive foreign policy agenda, it opens with some expert passages. Shot in a grainy, documentary style, Zwick lets the audience be a part of the action, to witness the acts of terrorism that drive the film's second, weaker half. The first half focuses on the relationship between the FBI and CIA, both tenuous symbols of American democracy. These are played out beautifully by Denzel Washington's reliable and gutsy FBI leader Hubbard, and Annette Bening's feisty and mysterious CIA undercover operative. It's this relationship that proves the most interesting, a complex, sharp and even witty entanglement that generates excitement. The film falls apart when the screenwriters, Zwick included, introduce us to a right-wing army general, played with excessive one note boredom by Bruce Willis, who becomes as evil a character as the terrorists he's pursuing. This second half of The Siege is an exercise in stupidity, and the realism built up so cleverly initially, dissipates: we're left with an overly conventional chase thriller that is never resolved with a sense of clarity. There are some great Zwick touches, such as the explosion of a bus, and the way he manipulates crowd sequences. But The Siege ultimately lets itself down by its incongruous politics and an innate sense of confusion and superficiality."
Paul Fischer

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Favourable: 2
Mixed: 1



CAST: Denzel Washington, Annette Benning, Bruce Willis, Tony Shalhoub, David Proval, Sami Bouajila, Ahmed Ben Larbi

DIRECTOR: Edward Zwick

PRODUCER: Lynda Obst, Edward Zwick

SCRIPT: Lawrence Wright


EDITOR: Seteven Rosenblum

MUSIC: Graeme Revell


RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 1998

Video Release: June 23, 1999
Video Distributor: Fox

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