ⓘ The Siege


ⓘ The Siege

The Siege is a 1998 American action thriller film directed by Edward Zwick. The film is about a fictional situation in which terrorist cells have made several attacks in New York City. The film stars Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Tony Shalhoub, and Bruce Willis.


1. Plot

FBI Special Agent Anthony Hubbard Denzel Washington and his Lebanese American partner, Frank Haddad Tony Shalhoub, intervene at the hijacking of a bus fully loaded with passengers, which contains an explosive device. The bomb turns out to be a paint bomb and the terrorists escape. The FBI receives demands to release Sheikh Ahmed Ben Larby bin Talal, a radical Iraqi cleric who was suspected to have ordered the earlier bombing at the American embassy in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia who was captured and extracted while going to Lebanon by a group of American covert operators of Lebanese - American ancestry in the introductory scene of the film, who was then imprisoned in an undisclosed location after being extracted while the U.S. Government prepared to prosecute him for his role in the barracks bombing. Hubbard eventually comes into conflict with Central Intelligence Agency agent Elise Kraft Annette Bening, as he takes a terrorist suspect into custody and arrests Kraft. Later, another terrorist threat is made and a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus is bombed. The feds captures a man named Samir Nazhde Sami Bouajila, who admits to signing the visa application of one of the suicide bombers in the course of signing many applications for student visas in his job as a lecturer. However, Kraft insists that Samir is not a terrorist and that his continued freedom is vital to the investigation.

The terrorist incidents escalate, including the bombing of a bus and a crowded theater, a hostage-taking at an elementary school, and the destruction of One Federal Plaza, the location of the FBIs New York City field office, with over 600 casualties. In spite of objections, the President of the United States declares martial law and the United States Armys 101st Airborne Division, under the command of Major General William Devereaux Bruce Willis, occupies and seals off Brooklyn in an effort to find the remaining terrorist cells. Subsequently, all young men of Arab descent, including Haddads son Frank Jr., are rounded up and detained in Downing Stadium. Haddad resigns in outrage. New Yorkers stage violent demonstrations against the Army and the profiling of the Arabs; the Army fights to maintain control. There are reports of Army killings.

Hubbard and Kraft, now revealed to be an agent named Sharon Bridger, continue their investigation and capture a suspect, Tariq Husseini Amro Salama. Devereauxs men torture and kill Husseini in the course of the interrogation. Afterward, Bridger tells Hubbard that Husseini revealed nothing of value because of the principle of compartmentalized information. Sickened, Bridger finally admits that she provided training and support to militants opposed to Saddam Husseins regime, working with Samir to recruit and train the followers of the Sheikh. After the U.S. cut their funding and left them exposed, she took pity on the few of them who had not yet been slaughtered by Husseins forces, and arranged for them to escape to the United States, ultimately leading to the present situation as they turn their bomb making and covert skills on the country that now holds their leader. Sharon and Hubbard compel Samir to arrange a meeting with the final terrorist cell. Hubbard also convinces Haddad to return to the FBI.

A multi-ethnic peace march demonstrates against the occupation of Brooklyn. As the march is getting under way Hubbard and Haddad arrive at the meeting place, but Bridger and Samir have already left. Samir reveals to Bridger that he constitutes the final cell while in another sense he says, "there will never be a last cell." He straps a bomb to his body which he intends to detonate among the marchers. Hubbard and Haddad arrive in time to prevent him leaving but Samir shoots Bridger in the abdomen as she struggles to stop him. Hubbard and Haddad kill Samir but despite their best efforts the pair can only watch as Bridger succumbs to her wound after managing to recite certain lines of the second half of the Lords Prayer and concluding with "Inshallah" – the Arabic phrase "God Willing".

Hubbard, Haddad, and their team raid Devereauxs headquarters to make an arrest for the torture and murder of Husseini. Deveraux insists that under the War Powers Resolution the authority vested in himself by the President supersedes that of the court which issued the arrest warrant. Deveraux then commands his soldiers to aim their assault rifles at the agents, resulting in a Mexican standoff. Hubbard reminds Devereaux that the civil liberties and human rights which he took from Husseini are what all of his predecessors have fought and perished for. Devereaux finally submits and then gets arrested. Martial law ends and the detainees, including Haddads son, are given their freedom.


2. Cast

  • David Proval as FBI Agent Danny Sussman
  • Ahmed Ben Larby as Sheik Akhmed bin Talal
  • Sami Bouajila as Samir Nazhde
  • Lisa Lynn Masters as Reporter
  • Annette Bening as CIA officer Elise Kraft / Sharon Bridger
  • Aasif Mandvi as Khalil Saleh
  • Lianna Pai as FBI Agent Tina Osu
  • Lance Reddick as FBI Agent Floyd Rose
  • Bruce Willis as U.S. Army Major General William Devereaux
  • Tony Shalhoub as FBI Special Agent Frank Haddad
  • Amro Salama as Tariq Husseini
  • Denzel Washington as FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Anthony "Hub" Hubbard
  • Mark Valley as FBI Agent Mike Johanssen

3.1. Reception Critical response

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes awards the film a score of 44% based on 62 reviews. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.

Roger Ebert gave the film 2​ 1 ⁄ 2 stars out of four, writing that director Edward Zwick does a good job with crowd scenes, but criticizing it as clumsy.

Bruce Willis won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor for his performances in this film, Armageddon, and Mercury Rising.


3.2. Reception Box office

The film grossed $40.981.289 in North America and $75.691.623 in other territories on a budget of $70 million.