The Siege

1998

The Siege

Critics Consensus

An exciting, well-paced action film.

44%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 62

53%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 53,738
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Movie Info

Edward Zwick directed this action thriller about Islamic militants unleashing terrorism in New York City. As FBI Terrorism Task Force-chief Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) investigates, a false-alarm bomb threat is followed by a legit bomb, with many killed when a Brooklyn bus explodes. Agents track a suspect through Brooklyn, while Hub teams with Middle East expert and NSA operative Elise Kraft (Annette Bening). After the FBI wipes out three Arabs in a Brooklyn apartment, an explosion in a Broadway theater is followed by attacks on a school and FBI headquarters. When the President declares martial law, neo-fascist Army General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis) swings into action, deploying tanks through Brooklyn, capturing Arab-American males, and herding them into an open-air stadium detention camp. Hub's Arab-American FBI associate Frank Haddad (Tony Shalhoub) is disgusted and quits when his son becomes one of the Arab detainees. With the Army out of control, the power-crazed Devereaux devises plans for torture and murder, turning his attention to Hub and Elise. President Bill Clinton is seen denouncing terrorists in TV clips. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

Cast

Denzel Washington
as Anthony 'Hub' Hubbard
Annette Bening
as Elise Kraft : Sharon Bridger
Bruce Willis
as Major General William Devereaux
Tony Shalhoub
as Agent Frank Haddad
Sami Bouajila
as Samir Nazhde
David Proval
as Danny Sussman
Lance Reddick
as FBI Agent Floyd Rose
Mark Valley
as FBI Agent Mike Johanssen
Liana Pai
as Tina Osu
Jack Gwaltney
as Fred Darius
Chip Zien
as Chief of Staff
Victor Slezak
as Col. Hardwick
Will Lyman
as FBI Director
Dakin Matthews
as Sen. Wright
John Rothman
as Congressman Marshall
E. Katherine Kerr
as Attorney General
Jimmie Ray Weeks
as Army General
Aasif Mandvi
as Khalil Saleh
Ahmed Ben Larby
as Sheik Achmed Bin Talal
Jeremy Knaster
as INS Official
William Hill
as INS Uniform
Frank DiElsi
as Officer Williams
Wood Harris
as Officer Henderson
David Costabile
as Fingerprint Expert
Glenn Kessler
as Fiber Expert
Jeffrey Allen Waid
as Video Agent
Tom McDermott
as Phone Bank Agent
Sherry Ham-Bernard
as Hub's Secretary
Joseph Hodge
as Landlord
Joey Naber
as Rashad
Said Faraj
as Yousuf
Jacqueline Antaramian
as Najiba Haddad
Helmi Kassim
as Frank Haddad Jr.
Ghoulam R. Rasoully
as Frank Jr.'s Teacher
Diana Naftal
as Injured Woman
Neal Jones
as NYPD Representative
Donna Hanover
as District Attorney
Peter Schindler
as Johnson, FAA
Hany Kamal
as Arab Spokesman
John Henry Cox
as Speaker of the House
Ray Godshall Jr.
as CIA Director
Chris Messina
as Corporal
Amro Salama
as Tariq Husseini
Jim Shankman
as ACLU Lawyer
Matt Servitto
as Journalist No. 1
Jourdan Fremin
as Journalist No. 2
Anjua Warfield
as March Organizer
Susie Essman
as Protest Speaker
Rory J. Aylward
as Lieutenant
Jeff Beatty
as FBI Agent Undercover
Arianna Huffington
as Capital Week Pundit
Robert Scheer
as Capital Week Pundit
Matt Miller
as Capital Week Pundit
John F. Beard
as Newscaster
Stan Brooks
as Newscaster
Alex Chadwick
as Newscaster
Epi Colon
as Newscaster
Judy de Angelis
as Newscaster
Luis Jiménez
as Newscaster
Sean Hannity
as Newscaster
Ronald Kuby
as Newscaster
Daniel Schorr
as Newscaster
Curtis Sliwa
as Newscaster
Susan Stamberg
as Newscaster
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Critic Reviews for The Siege

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (35)

Audience Reviews for The Siege

  • Jul 19, 2014
    Well back in 1998 this entire premise seemed quite far fetched, virtually in the realms of fantasy by the kind of overly paranoid Yanks that stockpile guns and tinned food. Then unfortunately the unthinkable happened as America was indeed attacked and hit hard on their own turf with the dreadful September 11, 2001 terrorist suicide bombings of the World Trade Center in New York. It is only now that this film really does have a much darker meaning with the events of the movie disturbingly realistic when once thought of as hyper reality. The story simply sees New York under threat from terrorists in random attacks across the city by an unknown force suspected to be Arabic. Its up to Denzel Washington and Tony Shalhoub to track down and stop the attackers before things get out of hand. Of course things do get way way out of hand as the attacks become more ferocious and the FBI's leads dwindle. In the end the military are drafted in as martial law is declared with Brooklyn locked down around the Arabic community. Apart from the very real threat of terrorist attacks anywhere at anytime the films main focus is on racial profiling, hardcore stereotyping and prejudice. There is a strong morality tale between good and evil that not only covers the obvious but the use of Nazi-like tactics by American troops on Arabic/Muslim American citizens as they are rounded up and detained in mass makeshift holding areas. I really don't need to go into the obvious concentration camp connections here do I. But there is more as we also get Bruce Willis (badly miscast) as a Major General who is intent on getting information out of suspects in any way possible, illegally of course. Here you see the little twist of the Yanks being no better than the terrorists they are fighting, becoming what they fear and stand against, taking away the right to a court of law, innocent before proven guilty, liberty and justice, human rights go bye bye. When the shit hits the fan and terror is taking control of the streets, power is granted to various officials, its then that we see the darker side of some people. Willis' character has the orders to basically protect his country and the American way of life by any means necessary, do what needs to be done whilst the upper echelons look the other way. Of course Washington's character stands firm and will not allow this kind of behaviour to carry on, there are still laws and rights. Gotta be honest though at times you do feel he is being too PC considering the circumstances, he's almost too heroic and saintly when in reality someone might buckle. The message is forced even more once Shalhoub's sons is also rounded up and taken away causing him to toss his badge. The message slaps you across the face sure but it works effectively. This being a Washington movie you know its gonna be decent, you just know...and this doesn't disappoint. Visually its very slick and effective in getting across its now very realistic message. The only let down for me was probably Bening who didn't really fit her part in my opinion, she comes as someone more concerned about their hair looking right plus her plot setup with the Middle Eastern chap is too obvious really. Tension is reasonable but the film is a little too mainstream for you to actually start sweating over the outcome, its not like Washington is gonna bite the bullet is it, everyone else is fair game but not Denzel. The ending is way too God bless America for my liking, although expected. Too neat and tidy as all the citizens are released with schmaltzy hugging scenes and Washington preaching about their forefathers and how they fought and died for the life they have today. He's right sure but it feels too much like an all American Boy Scout speech, you half expect the Star-Spangled Banner to kick off with fireworks in the sky. As said its funny how back in 1998 this all seemed so unlikely, the notion that the US could be attacked on their own soil in such a devastating way. This whole martial law scenario and the rounding up of specific people was always possible but it still felt more like an old World War II flashback. These days the entire aspect has come true to a certain degree although not as bad as depicted in the film, its a much easier prospect to see becoming a reality within the US these days that's for sure. In the end the story boils down to the terrorists winning on a psychological level simple because the US way of life has been changed dramatically. Justice and democracy have gone out the window, fear and suspicion sits in its place.
    Phil H Super Reviewer
  • May 25, 2014
    It's Edward Zwick and Denzel Washington together again, ostensibly because Washington doesn't exactly have a great grip on the concept of sequels being less grounded and inspired than their predecessor. Oh, I'm sorry, but I was under the impression that this was "Courage Under Fire II: Coming to America". Yeah, baby, it's Denzel Washington facing off against terrorists, and that is awesome, and that is a statement that was probably delivered a little more comfortably within the first almost three years of this film's release. I can't help but notice that not a whole lot of people talked about this film about a fictionalized account of terrorist laying siege on New York from 2001 on, although in all fairness, I don't know if people were talking about it all that much from 1998 on. No, the film made plenty of solid money, but it isn't exactly considered the most memorable Edward Zwick melodrama, at least after "Courage Under Fire" or, well, "Independence Day". I can't help but feel as though this was Zwick's attempt at making a more realistic portrayal of a New York siege, which would be more noble if it didn't get awkward after 9/11, or if the film turned out decent. Yeah, I don't know about you, but this film hardly "sieges" my attention, for it's less inspired than that "sieges" pun, even though it has a potential to go a fair distance. Its interpretation a serious mess in so many ways, this film's subject matter, despite even being lacking in substance in concept, is pretty intriguing, studying on themes regarding how political folk of justice interpret and approach modern terrorism through a conceptually biting narrative focusing on the political and dramatic mumbo-jumbo surrounding terrorism investigations. While not too juicy, the film's story is stronger in concept than it is in execution, yet that's not to say that Edward Zwick doesn't do some justice to the thriller's potential, even within style, establishing some form of entertainment value through subtle visual and technical stylization and the occasional solid action sequence. As for substance, Zwick is a whole lot sloppier, just as he has been in more inspired projects, but that's not to say that Zwick completely loses his grip on his usual highlights as a dramatic storyteller, playing on touches in his and Lynda Obst's writing and in Graeme Revell that aren't too trite in order to craft some genuine effectiveness to tension, if not resonance. Zwick has his moments, I'm not going to lie, and considering that there's only so much to focus on in this, not frustrating, but simply blandly mediocre affair, those moments stand a chance of going a long way, even though they're not as recurrent as moments of sharpness to the performances. Acting material is certainly limited, but acting talent is not, and for what they're given to do, most every member of this distinguished cast delivers, and that particularly goes for Denzel Washington, who is playing Denzel Washington, sure, but still charismatic and subtly layered enough to prove worthy as a lead to a film which is not worthy of its lead. There's little to praise in this flat flick, but there are, in fact, commendable elements found here and there throughout the final product, crafting glimpses into a better thriller. Unfortunately, what you ultimately get more often than not is plain and simple mediocrity, deriving from a laziness that even stands within expository depths. Driven by sheer momentum, this thriller could have at least slowed down for exposition that, in the final product, is all but cleansed, seeing the film offering no extensive immediate development to characters whose lack of background is by no means compensated for during a body which does little to flesh out the depths of its characters, resulting in a thinness that a thriller this character-driven cannot afford to have. It really is hard to describe just how sloppy the film's expository value is, yet the final product still comes out running just shy of two hours, and it gets there by meeting all of the rushing to material with excess in filler, if not material that, without a sense of layering, gets to be repetitious, perhaps even monotonous. If nothing else, the pacing inconsistencies beget a serious sense of aimlessness that stiffens pacing and makes it easy to feel every bland minute in this overdrawn and uneven, no matter how much the filmmakers try to color things up. Just as the expository shortcomings reflect an unevenness in pacing, they reflect a lazy lack of attention to substance, usually for the sake of style that, while present, is lacking, making it all the harder to ignore the tastelessness and laziness, which are so great that the film finds itself not even inspired enough to treat refreshing subject matter refreshingly. Its characters conventional, its dialogue trite and its plot formulaic, this film which promises to be unique is ultimately nothing new, and such hopeless predictability really exposes a lack of filmmaking inspiration, which is, in fact, there, often in too great of an intensity. He has his effective moments as a director, but Edward Zwick has really held back plenty of promising projects with overblown storytelling, and as you can imagine, he especially does that here, taking all of the contrived writing, scoring and other Hollywood tropes, and bearing down on you with a shameless celebration of them, trying to resonate, and ending up distancing you even more. Of course, Zwick might simply get so carried away with directorial storytelling because his heart isn't even keeping things under control, but either way, Zwick's ostensibly ambition direction falls flat, overpowered by so much laziness throughout this messily paced, humanly lacking and overstylized film that the final product finds itself gradually losing what momentum it has, until it collapses as a mediocre misfire. When the danger has passed, intriguing subject matter is occasionally done justice by sharp style, directorial highlights, and consistently solid performances - particularly that of Denzel Washington - which provide glimpses into a decent film, ultimately lost in the sweeping wake of the paper-thin characterization, aimless pacing inconsistency, and a distancing lack of substance, originality and subtlety that secure Edward Zwick's "The Siege" as a sometimes inspired, but predominantly lazy betrayal of worthy subject matter that falls flat in the long run. 2.25/5 - Mediocre
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Feb 01, 2014
    This is an excellent film that when released in 1998, might have seemed far fetched. The idea of terrorists unleashing an attack(s) that would immobilize New York City seems to be a stretch. Now years later, following that horrible day on 9/11,this movie has great meaning and generates critical thought. Denzel Washington is as usual, exceptional, as the FBI Official in charge of finding cells of terrorists let loose in the Big Apple. Washington is one of the few actors who, in my mind, have never "mailed in" a performance. His character, Anthony Hubbard, is a fair, straight laced cop, who is not willing to break the rules to catch the bad guys. Hubbard realizes that it is those rules that make this country worth protecting. His fellow agent, Frank Haddad (Played Remarkably by Tony Shaloub in an Oscar nomination worthy performance) is the Muslim Agent in charge of finding ruthless,fanatical Muslim terrorists, They are helped, and sometimes foiled in their quest by CIA operative Elise Kraft, played by Annette Bening. Bening does an excellent job of conveying the murky waters that CIA operatives tread in. It is one of the best aspects of this movie that makes you wonder weather CIA operations are often literal "Deals with the Devil." The city after several lethal attacks is put under Martial Law, and under the command of a General, played by Bruce Willis. The General has the belief that the mission must be accomplished, no matter what the legal or moral costs might be. I encourage you to watch this film, and digest some of the questions it poses. Specifically is a country worth saving if the cost is the loss of true freedom and justice?
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 03, 2014
    A very middling action film that with a good-hearted and sincere message, is too formulaic in it's script and screenplay. It plays out just like every other action/thriller film and sets up the story providing just enough story and character development in order to advance to the next scene and is shallow for doing so. Yes there are some good set pieces and yes the film does have a hopeful message of tolerance and terrorism lies within the few corrupted and not the whole of a people, but it's just not original or complex in it's approach. Still if you like Denzel Washington and most of his other action films then you will find this a digestable outting with enough thrills to keep you watching.
    Chris B Super Reviewer

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