The Siege (1998) starring Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Bruce Willis, Tony Shalhoub, Sami Bouajila, Ahmed Ben Larby, Mosleh Mohamed, Lianna Pai directed by Edward Zwick Movie Review

The Siege (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Denzel Washington and Tony Shalhoub in The Siege (1998)

City Under Siege

"The Siege" is not a great movie, I will tell you that straight away, but it is a movie which manages to deliver a thriller which has intelligence but also action something which seems surprisingly hard to do in more recent times. It makes it for those who are attracted by the cast which includes Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis entertaining with enough bravado, chases and explosions to satisfy their need for visual thrills. But at the same time it explores some issues, not in depth but covers things from the antagonistic way different government agencies work to the treatment of a minority during a terrorist attack. It is because these two combine whilst we have the expected good performances that "The Siege" works.

When a special ops team lead by General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis - Armageddon) capture an Islamic terrorist it leads to an increase in terrorist activity in New York as vehicles and buildings are blown up. With things spiralling out of control the President must take the decision to declare martial law. It is a decision which FBI agent Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington - The Preacher's Wife) does not agree with as he and his team are busy working to crack the terrorist ring whilst also dealing with Elise Kraft (Annette Bening - Mars Attacks!), a CIA agent who seems to know more than she is letting on.

Annette Bening in The Siege (1998)

Now on a simple level "The Siege" is entertainment for the masses as whilst it is clear there is depth to this storyline it is entertaining. There is enough action as we have effectively shot chases and explosions and there are enough twists as well which work at a simple level of being entertaining rather than confusing. Plus we have well defined characters who have confidence and bravado which work because you have popular actors such as Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis playing them, delivering the lines in their recognizable way. It means that for those who are attracted to "The Siege" by who is in it rather than the storyline will be entertained.

But then as I said there is also some depth to this as it explores various elements from the mass mistreatment of a minority when it is only a small sub sect of who are responsible. Plus there is the mistrust between the various government departments as they keep things from each other, protecting themselves rather than working for the greater good. There isn't a great amount of depth to this, no real complexity but the intelligence of the story is clearly there making it more than just an action movie.

The one problem I have with "The Siege" is that towards the end it starts to get preachy as it brings a message to the fore. Having a message is not the issue but the less than subtle way in which it delivers it is.

What this all boils down to is that "The Siege" is one of those rare movies which combines intelligence with action and in doing so provides as much entertainment for those who are attracted by its cast as for those attracted by the story.