CAPSULE: 6 DAYS, a UK/New-Zealand co-production, is a docudrama re-creating the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege in London. Iranian terrorists wanted to force Britain to exert its (dubious) influence on the Iranian government to release 91 Arab prisoners. The account is tense but has few or no serious discrepancies with the BBC account of the incident (on YouTube). Still, one hostage crisis film may be a lot like another. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
6 DAYS is the story of the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege that took place in the area known as Princess Gate in the heart of London, yet it really was aimed at the Iranian government 3400 miles away. To put the time in historical perspective, both Margaret Thatcher's term as UK Prime Minister and the Iran Hostage Crisis began the previous year. Both influence the embassy siege.
A breakaway faction in Iran calling itself the "Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan" wanted to cut out a piece of Southern Iran, then called Khuzestan and declare it Arabistan. It would be a refuge for Arabic speaking Iranians who are persecuted other places in Iran.
At 11:30 AM Wednesday, April 30, 1980, six heavily armed gunmen occupied the Iranian Embassy in London and took 26 hostages. The immediate goal of the action was to force the Iranian government to release 91 political prisoners, advocates of the Arabistan movement. They also demanded to be given a plane to take the terrorists and their hostages out of the UK. As the title suggests the film follows the events of the six days of the terrorists occupying the embassy. At the same time the Special Air Service (SAS)--the elite special forces unit of the British Army--and the Metropolitan police will both try to rescue the 91 hostages. We see six days of negotiation, lies, and bargains. One demand that can be complied with: the terrorists want their action covered by the BBC. The BBC is more than happy to cover the story.
We see the events primarily from two points of view. Max (played by Mark Strong) is the negotiator from the metropolitan police. Working somewhat at cross-purposes is the military SAS, represented by Rusty (Jamie Bell). Glenn Standring's screenplay is devoted almost entirely to the siege, with no side plots or subplots. Max does have two daughters who see him on TV. That is about it. From the start the entire operation was botched. It is not clear why the terrorists thought the UK could help the hostage-takers. Iran and the UK at this time were adversaries.
Mark Strong is a good actor with striking looks, but until now I have seen him in only supporting roles. In THE IMITATION GAME he played a government official. In JOHN CARTER he was some kind of secret alien overlord sort of thing. It is also good to see Tim Pigott-Smith is still around and making films. Music by Lachlan Anderson is just jarring texture with no melody.
Perhaps the biggest problem with 6 DAYS is not the fault of the account specifically. Plots of hostage crises and negotiations for release are very common. It is hard to find much here that is new and creative. If one discounts the violence in 6 DAYS, this film is a lot like DOG DAY AFTERNOON or INSIDE MAN. I rate 6 DAYS a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10. Release date: August 18.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4703048/combined
What others are saying: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/6_days
BBC documentary on the Iranian Embassy Siege https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD14OSmUniA
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper