6 Days (2017) Review

Tense historical drama featuring several strong performances.

6 Days is a 2017 thriller about armed gunmen who stormed the Iranian Embassy in London and took all inside hostage, causing a tense six-day standoff.

Reminding us that terrorism is not a new phenomenon, even if it has evolved over many decades, Toa Fraser‘s 6 Days takes us back to 1980, during a time when most Americans were caught up in the Iranian hostage affair. Set in London when they faced a crisis all their own. Mixing in a bit of the politics and international conflict, the film is mostly a tense action movie, well-directed and constantly in motion.

It starts without a setup, as the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate, London is quickly overrun by a band of Iranian Arab militants who take hostage 26 members (mostly Iranian) of the building, demanding political prisoners to be released. The area is quickly barricaded, evacuated, and surrounded by police, leaving Detective Max Vernon (Mark Strong) to communicate with the terrorist leader Salim (Ben Turner), who claims they are going to kill people unless demands are met. Meanwhile, an elite Special Air Service team is assembled and begins working on a plan to strike, with Rusty (Jamie Bell) at the center, held in check while the government struggles to find a peaceful solution. Now everyone has to wait.

The film is a two-sided story that runs parallel themes of diplomacy versus action as Max and those above him work to find a peaceful solution, running all the way up to the new prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who is only heard at the movie’s end, and the SAS team who plan and drill, preparing themselves for every possible contingency if and when they need to attack. Meanwhile, a throng of press gathers behind the fences with BBC reporter Kate Adie (Abbie Cornish) on the front lines, eventually becoming integral to the process, though the film makes sure to paint the journalists as more willing to bend the truth than anything else, some looking to have the military storm the building and just get it over with.

6 Days
6 Days, 2017 © General Film Corporation

Frasher works to illustrate the consequences of hesitation as the country’s policy towards terrorism is fiercely tested, leaving them floundering with workable solutions. This, reflected against the SAS’s practiced, surgically precise rehearsals makes for a compelling watch as Frasher ramps up the heat and builds a lot of momentum to the sixth day. We see all sides of the crisis, even the Iranians, who are not in solidarity about their own plan, though like many parts of the film, doesn’t offer much for background, keeping the story strictly about the siege itself.

Historical dramas are always walking a thin line, especially ones that are recent enough to have their own recorded history, with this one well-documented on British television, something Thatcher requested so the world could see how they deal with such situations. It all leads to an explosive finale where not all things go as planned or practiced and Frasher does a good job keeping clear the chaos, like the SAS team, executing with precision a highly-charged and accurate re-enactment of the events. While some things are glossed over, like Adie’s impact and contribution (other than a line before the end credits), the movie is nonetheless an effective experience with terrific work from both Strong and Bell. 6 Days is a taut thriller that best serves as a vehicle to learn more.

6 Days (2017) Review

Movie description: 6 Days is a 2017 thriller about armed gunmen who stormed the Iranian Embassy in London and took all inside hostage, causing a tense six-day standoff.

Director(s): Toa Fraser

Actor(s): Abbie Cornish, Mark Strong, Jamie Bell

Genre: Action, History

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