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6 Days


Director: Toa Fraser

Starring: Jamie Bell, Abbie Cornish, Mark Strong, Martin Shaw, Ben Turner, Tim Pigott-Smith

6 Days recreates the events that took place between April and May 1980 when gunmen took 26 hostages inside the Iranian Embassy in South Kensington, London, demanding that Iranian prisoners be released from Khuzestan otherwise every hostage would be murdered. With PM Margaret Thatcher staunchly refusing any deals or negotiations, British police, intelligence and the SAS were called to resolve a situation that was unfolding live on television.


Despite the chance to present a tense political thriller, unfortunately, the movie delivers a rigid re-creation as opposed to a gripping stand-off.

As the title suggests, the movie takes place over a six-day period, between April 30th-May 5th, and covers the unfolding drama that was occurring across the UK security horizon. The events are seen from the perspectives of three characters – TV reporter Kate Adie (Cornish) who was on the ground delivering unprecedented footage, negotiator Max Vernon (Strong) and SAS soldier Rusty Firmin (Bell). However, the vast majority of the movie sits with Strong and his methods of stalling and negotiating with the terrorists, though with the SAS ready to break through the doors, his efforts are largely glossed over by the conclusion. Whilst on alert, the SAS mainly sit around, drinking tea and watching cricket as they wait for the terrorists’ first move. Quick montages of training are presented as different options are raised by the terrorists to ensure they receive safe passage out of the country, but these are fleeting as we return to the tedious quiet of the makeshift Operations HQ. Kate Adie is given credence in the movie, but she is pushed aside consistently to allow the non-negotiations to continue.


As the movie plods along, there are no stand-out performances despite the solid cast. Mark Strong is just fine as the calm and collected negotiator, Bell is just rugged enough to pull off the role of SAS leader but Cornish suffers from poor accent syndrome as BBC reporter Kate Adie, and, unfortunately, the depiction becomes nauseating. Also, attempting to make Salim a sympathetic and near-tortured soul was an ill-judged decision – because, well, he is a terrorist.

In terms of re-creating the events, 6 Days succeeds when the siege finally bursts into life. As the SAS plummet into the building, the movie charges briefly out of first gear and, with guidance from Firmin himself, the scenes are staged very well. The action, whilst frantic, is clear and obvious even through the shadows and smoke that fill every room. The pedestrian pacing lets the movie down, scenes meander on and, on the whole, the movie never truly gets going. It reminded me more of an episode of television more than anything.


There have been other movies that depict real-life events (Argo and Deepwater Horizon being two recent examples) and have succeeded by ensuring the tension of the situation rises to the top, unfortunately, 6 Days suffers from being too devoid of tension and atmosphere. Aside from the siege at the end, there’s not an awful lot to get the pulse racing as the countdown heads towards its conclusion.


6 Days felt unfortunately like 6 months.


August 25th 2017

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