The Siege (1998) Review



The Siege is an intelligent and thought provoking movie, with great performances that deserves a reappraisal.

Plot: The secret US abduction of a suspected terrorist leads to a wave of terrorist attacks in New York that lead to the declaration of martial law.

Review: It’s funny how at the time of release this movie didn’t really make much of an impact, but upon watching it again a few weeks ago, it’s pretty terrifying and accurate. The Siege almost feels like a documentary since the events of 9/11 with New York put under martial law due to a terror threat. Although thankfully the martial law aspect never happened, pretty much everything else did.

It has a thought provoking story which keeps you riveted and an intelligent script which asks what would happen if such a threat really did occur. Little did they know what would happen a few years later.

Bruce Willis actually doesn’t look bored in it and he gives one of his best performances; Major General William Devereaux is a layered character who is anything but one note.

When I was younger I thought he was just an out and out villain but upon watching it again, you can see that he didn’t want martial law to happen as he knew what the result would be. He’s essentially following orders and despite how brutal he gets, he does it because he thinks it’s for the greater good of the country.

Denzel Washington plays Anthony ‘Hub’ Hubbard, an FBI Agent scrambling around the city trying to prevent another attack. He’s fantastic as always and I think the highlight of the movie is the bus exploding. Hub tries to negotiate with terrorists holding hostages on a bus. He convinces the terrorists to free the children and you think they are going to back down; then as the old people are getting off the bus it detonates and it’s incredibly shocking and realistic. Glass is blown out of car windows and the city begins to panic.

Annette Benning’s character Elise Kraft/Sharon Bridger is unpredictable and you’re almost unsure of which side she is playing for. When she sacrifices herself at the end mixing a Christian and Muslim prayer, you can see that she understood both sides and is another fascinating character.

Because of how tense the film is, I found myself gripped from beginning to end and Ed Zwick once again proves what a great director he is. Although the action is more realistic rather than “fun”, it’s incredibly well executed and taut.

The music is haunting and although it lacks a main theme, it certainly provided sufficient atmosphere.

It maybe doesn’t warrant multiple viewings and after 9/11 it can be hard to sit through.

Overall, The Siege is an intelligent and thought provoking movie, with great performances that deserves a reappraisal.