Wednesday, 3 April 2013

FILM: Thirteen Days (8/10)

Why did I watch it?
Caught a description of this film in the TV guide and it appealed to my interest in all things historical. Also, I had just finished reading Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears, which culminates in a stand-off between the US and Soviets that teeters on the brink of nuclear war so this film seemed apt.

What's it all about?
Thirteen Days follows the actions of US President JFK (Bruce Greenwood) and his administration and military during the thirteen days that followed the discovery of Soviet nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba in 1962 as the two world superpowers edged towards nuclear war. At the centre of the decision-making alongside JFK, Kevin Costner stars as adviser Kenny O'Donnell and Steven Culp as Robert Kennedy.

Should you watch it?
Led by strong performances by Greenwood and Culp, Thirteen Days is an interesting and taught political drama, even if the final outcome is known to all (hint - we weren't all incinerated by mutual nuclear destruction). In addition to the Kennedy administration, the narrative covers the roles of both the military and US UN representatives in the crisis. I've always thought that the roles of military personnel in movies is clich├ęd in the manner they always push for war, but seeing as this film depicts actual events (according to the source book) it turns out that that is actually the case. In fact, in this case the military chiefs repeatedly undermine JFK's restrained  by not cancelling a planned atom bomb test or spy flights close to the Soviet Union.

The script faithfully recreates actual speeches given by JFK during the crisis, 'not merely peace in our time but peace for all time' and both Greenwood and Culp accurately nail the Boston Irish accent of the Kennedy family. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the film's lead and producer, Kevin Costner. His accent veers from credible to laughable to non-existent during the film and his failings are only highlighted by his co-stars' performances.


  1. hmmm this sounds like it is worth checking out. Somehow i recall this being at the theater but I never got around to watching it at the time and had sort of forgotten its existence. Thanks for jogging my memory.

    1. You're welcome! It had slipped under my radar for 13 years until a few weeks ago!