6 Days, directed by Toa Fraser, lays out and builds its story well, while also keeping a constant level of tension running throughout. For what little time it has, the film is able to tell its story and develop its characters in a way that produces a reasonably full feeling experience that all ends up delivering on a memorable point in British history. Limitations don’t hold this film back, but they do produce a few snags that caused some issues. But do those issues irrevocably damage the film and lessen its watch-ability factor or is it fair to overlook them? Let’s rappel down into the review and find out.
Set in London in 1980 and based up real events, the film tells the story of when armed gunmen stormed the Iranian Embassy and took 26 hostages. Over the next 6 days, the Government and Metropolitan police attempted to negotiate for the safe release of all of the hostages. Meanwhile, by request of Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, the SAS (Britain’s most elite fighting unit) was preparing to assault the embassy and kill the terrorists if any harm came to the hostages. This film tells the story of what happened during the lead up to the inevitable…
For a film that is only 94 minutes in length, it does a surprisingly good job at servicing the many angles to the story and the characters within them. While not filled with much depth, there is still enough to engage you (story-wise) and interest you (character-wise). Structurally, the film moves between four to five main areas of the story: Hostage negotiation, the SAS and their training, members of the Government discussing plans, inside the embassy and the BBC news reporters outside the embassy. All of these of course play their part in furthering the story; giving us a better understanding of what happened over those 6 days. The areas that need more time and focus, get it and the areas that don’t, service the film adequately. It’s a tightly structured little film that gives you what you need to know and doesn’t mess around with anything it deems unnecessary filler.
Usually for me, this can create a detached feeling from the film; I find it difficult to connect or care about anything. But this film does a good job of moving between things and giving just enough to make it engaging – plus it helps that it’s based upon a true story, as it adds an intensity, knowing that people lived through this difficult event.
Something that the film does that is quite interesting, is what it chooses not to show. For the most part, we learn very little of what is happening inside the embassy. Other than when characters on the outside are discussing the situation, or interacting with the terrorists inside, we the audience, don’t learn anything that the characters don’t. This puts us in the same mindset as them. We know what they know and nothing more. It’s quite a smart way of connecting us to the characters, as we get a better sense of what they are thinking, by having to think the same way they are.
And this isn’t the only time the film tries to put us in a similar state of mind as the characters. 6 Days has a constant level of tension running through it. Things feel like they could go off at any moment and all hell might break loose. There are a number of times where events will begin to ramp up, the SAS soldiers will be standing ready at the door, to burst through and do what they’ve trained for. The tension builds, the music intensifies, everyone waits and looks on to what might be a disaster on multiple fronts… and then the order to ‘stand down’ comes over the radio. The characters let out a sigh of release, or frustration and so do we. Just like the characters, we are tensing up, waiting for it to all happen and then it doesn’t. It’s like the film is teasing us in a way. But similar to the giving of information, we are treated the same as the characters. Kept lingering on the edge, in a state of unease. Again, it helps to put us in the mindset of the characters.
In terms of the characters on offer (as I said earlier) they aren’t necessarily rich in depth. But I found various reasons to feel engaged by them – much of that due to some talented actors who know how to get more from their characters. Mark Strong for example (who portrays Max Vernon) communicates his struggle really effectively. Through his physical demeanour, we see a man who is pushed to his limits, until he inevitably breaks. Mark Strong’s delivery of that break is emotionally wrenching; as he struggles to hold back tears and seems to be at a loss for words for the first time in the film, it is a moment that hit me.
Mark Strong isn’t the only example of an actor bringing more to the role, he’s just the one that immediately jumped to mind. I feel that, without such a competent and talented selection of actors to portray the people who were there during the time, the will would have really suffered. Much of the reason I think I found myself connecting more to the characters and caring about them, was due to the support they brought. Otherwise, I feel the lack of support they had in the script would have really shown.
So while the film certainly kept me engaged and interested by much of what it focused on and how it focused on it. I was taken out of the film a few times, and that is because of the decision to cut in actual news footage from the event. It’s a great way to deliver information to the audience – the news giving all the exposition you need, without it feeling cheap or lazy. But the problem I had: was that cutting from old, grainy news footage, to the crisp, clear shots from modern-day digital cameras was unavoidably noticeable. It kept removing me from the film, as now I was focused on the difference of quality, rather than what was happening within the scene. It had its purpose, but simply wasn’t handled well. Had they shot on film, maybe it would have been more effective.
But I suppose it doesn’t overly detract from what is an enjoyable little film. It has many limitations, but it works within them and delivers a decent wee film that keeps you on edge, and wanting to see how things will play out. Also, it’s easily accessible, as it’s on Netflix, so it’s a good film to put on and take in; especially if you’re interested in learning more about what happened during the that scary time in 1980.
I’m going to recommend, 6 Days. The film doesn’t do anything bold, or game changing, it simply tells its story and tells it well. If you find the time, it’s worth checking out.
What did you think if the film and my review of it? Let me know in the comments section down below. I’d also appreciate it if you could give both my blog and my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings – a follow. If not, that’s fine. But I’ll finish up now by thanking you for taking the time to read my review and I hoped you liked it enough to return and read more. Have a wonderful day!