You can see the determination in The Negotiator to be topical, and there are licks of it throughout the film. But you don’t get very far in before it becomes clear that it is a fairly routine thriller that doesn’t very much.

Opening in 1972 when Beirut was the hub of sophistication and a waterhole for culture, people and business. The US are in prime schmooze setting and Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is a slick operator. It’s party time and it’s going well until Mossad turn up wanting to speak to the young orphan boy that Skiles and his wife hope to adopt. The problem is his elder brother was involved with the Munich attack. At that moment terrorists attack.

Forward to 1982 and Skiles is eking out a living as a negotiator in industrial relations. Things aren’t going well, with his sole employee/partner leaving him. He receives a call that takes him to a bar and back to Beirut. But this is not the place he left. It’s been torn apart by war with factions vying for either control or just a fight. Not a pleasant return added to the fact the US diplomatic core doesn’t have much confidence in his abilities to negotiate the release of a kidnapped diplomat (and his friend Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino)), with a destroyed reputation and a drink problem. And he needs his wits about him as he negotiates with the kidnappers. Complicating matters is the presence of Israelis who have their own interests and motives.

It’s a complicated plot (that completely wastes Rosamund Pike as CIA operative tasked with looking after Skiles) though fairly tick boxy in its execution with the mis-directions, political intrigue and personal relations and problems. It’s all very earnest but there’s not a lot of surprises and no tension at all. Director Brad Anderson lets the film become an ambulatory experience so you are carried from scene to scene to the end of the film and then that is that.