BFI #LFF 2017: 6 DAYS Film Review

Jamie Bell as Rusty Firmin in 6 DAYS

6 DAYS is a taut, introspective and solid re-telling of the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege

Director Toa Fraser brings real-life terrorism to the big screen in his new film 6 DAYS, a high-tension thriller based on the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege.

Based on true events, 6 DAYS opens with six armed gunmen storming the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate, London taking 26 people hostage in the process. The activists demand the release of Arab prisoners in the Khuzestan Province of Iran, as well as their own safe passage out of the UK. But this is Thatcher’s Britain and she’s not willing to yield to their demands, resulting in a six-day standoff between the terrorists and the British government.

Unlike other hostage films which tend to ramp up the suspense with full-on, all guns blazing style action sequences, Toa Fraser strips away any glamour and mystique from 6 DAYS to deliver a taut, introspective and solid re-telling of events. The director bides his time, building up tension slowly by blending newsreel footage with pulse-quickening reconstructions while Glenn Standring’s fuss-free script powers through the six days by taking in differing perspectives, from SAS training to the Cabinet meetings.

Mark Strong as Chief Inspector Max Vernon in 6 DAYS

Mark Strong delivers an impressive central performance as Chief Inspector Max Vernon, the mild-manned negotiator brought in to prevent bloodshed. Jamie Bell is equally strong as the cool-headed SAS team leader Rusty Firmin, seizing the opportunity to get tough and fast. The only real disappointment is the depiction of BBC news reporter Kate Adie (portrayed by Abbie Cornish with a questionable British accent) who is left sidelined as the film never really finds a meaningful way to integrate her into the narrative.

6 DAYS also has a tendency to compress the complex Thatcher-era politics, brushing over the Government’s decisions and subsequent actions without examining the philosophy and methodology behind it. The same can be said for the terrorists, whose individual identities and nuanced cause, is equally skimmed over and only broadly outlined.

That said, on the whole 6 DAYS is a gripping drama and the film’s tightly executed finale is handled exceptionally well.

4 out of 5 stars

6 DAYS screens at the BFI London Film Festival on 10 October 2017