6 days is a very factual portrayal of the Iranian Embassy Siege that took place in 1980. The Embassy located in South Kensington London was taken by six armed gunmen who kept 26 people hostage demanding the release of Arab prisoners being held in Khuzestan. However Margaret Thatchers government refused to negotiate, standing firm Thatcher instead calls in the Special Air Service (SAS) displaying a distinct lack of fear to use maximum force if necessary. The 6 days from the 30th April to the 5th May, captured the worlds attention and the world watched closely until eventually, the SAS stormed the building, rescuing all but one of the remaining hostages and killed five of the six terrorists. The footage was broadcast live globally, putting the SAS firmly in the public eye for the first time.
The siege has been part of the political debate for decades now and countless documentaries followed. The film Who Dares Wins hit cinemas in 1982, loosely based on the Iranian Embassy Seige this film was ridiculously exaggerated and wildly over the top. On the flip side to this the movie 6 days focuses so much on the details of the events that it seems to lose something along the way, becoming a theatrical re-enactment of each of the 6 days. Whilst this creates a lot of realism to the film, it does drag somewhat and become a little repetitive, especially the constant practicing for different outcomes by the SAS team. However the end assault on the embassy by the SAS is suitably gripping and packed full of action, it just seems to take a lifetime to get there.
Toa Fraser directs, creating an authentic feel to the whole thing and maintains a consistent atmosphere throughout. The cast is solid enough to carry the story along, especially the brilliant Mark Strong who is an extremely underrated actor but always gives a great performance. Strong gives a powerful yet respectful delivery of his role as Max Vernon, the Cheif Inspector in charge of direct negotiations with the terrorists. The audience follows Max Vernon through the whole process in an intimate way that provides an open picture of the political difficulties he faced in the negotiations. But, more importantly, we get to sympathize with his situation and the relationship he is building with the hostage takers. Martin Shaw gives a strong performance and Abby Cornish is cast as Kate Addie. The one cast member I had difficulty with was Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot fame, whilst he acted the part tremendously well I just could not be convinced with the casting of Bell as Rusty Firmin.
Overall, 6 days is a very interesting political thriller that provides an insightful view of the actions that took place on one of the most significant events in Modern British History. The film is not bad, but it is not great either seeming to be so sensitive with the details that it lacks excitement and finishes up feeling a little flat. I remember watching the live footage of the SAS storming the building and that was incredibly exciting, probably more exciting than this film. It is worth watching – but it will not knock your socks off.