This Controversial Denzel Washington Thriller is Finally Streaming Online

denzel washington the siege

I miss the days when studios would allow filmmakers to assemble a bunch of A-list stars together for some true, fantastic nonsense. Such was the case with Edward Zwick’s The Siege, a political thriller and action hybrid released in 1998. It stars Denzel Washington in his third collaboration with Zwick, having worked together before on both 1989’s Glory and 1996’s Courage Under Fire. The Siege wasn’t nearly as critically or commercially successful as those two. In fact, it might be one of the most controversial pegs in Denzel Washington’s career. If you’re curious, you can catch it streaming for free now via Starz. Check out a trailer and synopsis below:

Per Starz: Martial law is imposed in New York City when U.S. military zealots abduct a Muslim religious leader and an Army general cordons off Queens to form a detention camp. Two FBI agents team up with the CIA to save the day.

Annette Bening, Bruce Willis, and Tony Shalhoub star alongside Denzel Washington. At first glance, The Siege is ostensibly just another big-budget action movie trading in terrorism for thrills. Only, unlike several other titles released during the 1990s, The Siege generated considerable controversy.

At the time of release, both the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized the film’s portrayal of Muslim religious practices and terrorism. The Siege was characterized as incendiary and dangerous, another instance of Hollywood demonizing an entire religion, reducing them to regressive and offensive stereotypes. In retrospect, it’s hard to argue The Siege doesn’t do just that.

To the movie’s credit, Denzel Washington is expectedly great, and The Siege does gesture, however roughly, toward society’s inclination toward prejudice. It’s often a means to an end, namely the next big action sequence, but The Siege at least had more to say than most of its ilk.

What do you think? Where does The Siege land among Denzel Washington’s filmography for you? Any plans to check it out on Starz? Let me know over on Twitter @Chadiscollins.



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