ICON FILM DISTRIBUTION (2017)

 

Director: Toa Fraser

 

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

All hail the SAS.

 

6 Days recreates the events of April-May 1980 when gunmen took 26 hostages inside the Iranian Embassy in South Kensington, London. Their demands were 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 into resolve a situation that was unfolding live on television.

 

Unfortunately, the movie delivers a rigid re-creation as opposed to a tense stand-off.

As the title suggests, the movie takes place over a six day period, between April 30th-May 5th, and the unfolding drama that was occurring across the UK security horizon. The terrorists are constantly pushing their deadlines back in the face of false promises from the intelligence agencies however their promise to kill the hostages hangs in the air over every discussion.

 

The events are seen from the viewpoints 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) – with each covering different aspects of the event. Adie was outside covering the proceedings and capturing every image possible, Vernon was negotiating with Salim (Turner), the head of the terrorist group, in order to keep hostages alive and Firmin is with his comrades as they prepared for various scenarios in order to be ready at any moment. The vast majority of the movie sits with Strong and his methods of stalling and negotiating with the terrorists via Army telephones, though with the SAS ready to break through the doors, his efforts are largely glossed over by the conclusion. The SAS mainly sit around, drinking tea and watching cricket as they wait for the terrorists’ first move to allow them to burst in and save the day. 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. Mark Strong is just fine as the calm and collected negotiator, Jamie Bell is just rugged enough to pull off the role of SAS leader but Abbie Cornish suffers from poor accent syndrome as BBC reporter Kate Adie – unfortunately she becomes nauseating, which is a shame as Cornish is a talented actress. Attempting to make Salim a sympathetic and near-tortured soul doesn’t come across well at all – mainly because he is a terrorist and potential murderer – and there is no empathy to be felt towards the performance.

 

In terms of re-creating the events, the movie 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 filling every room. It’s a shame the SAS are portrayed as slightly ragtag beforehand. The pacing lets the movie down, as though the movie is billed as a thriller and therefore not destined to be action packed throughout, it just meddles and never seems to really get going. It reminded me more of a television episode more than anything.

 

There have been other movies that depict real-life events (Argo, Deepwater Horizon) 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

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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