This was originally reviewed on 18/10/17 as part of London Film Festival.
It’s surprising that it took so long for 6 Days’ subject matter to receive the onscreen treatment, as it depicts the famous 1980 Iranian Embassy siege and the SAS’s response, seen as “an almost unqualified success”.
6 Days is a methodical and competent retelling of events, following them as each day unfolds, and according to the Metropolitan Police, the BBC and, mainly, the SAS. The film accurately reflects the training, planning and preparation of the mission, named Operation Nimrod, as well as how responsive the SAS had to be to the government and police intel. This does, however, result in an uneven pace and a propensity to get bogged down in smaller, repetitive details.
A convincing and able cast give their all, but the muted character development means there’s not much to work with, despite the depiction of real people and events. Bell does a good job as SAS man Rusty Firmin (although his accent is a little muffled), alongside a focused Emun Elliott. Mark Strong just exudes decency as negotiator Chief Inspector Max Vernon, as well as singlehandedly providing the film with most of its tension. Cornish has a tougher time, sounding rather strangulated as the BBC’s Kate Adie.
Other than a few lines spread among some of the SAS soldiers, hostage PC Trevor Lock and reluctant terrorist Salim, everyone else blurs into unidentified terrorist or hostage. Casting director Dan Hubbard has expertly honed in on the military look for his SAS soldiers and Army officer actors, though.
6 Days presents a fascinating topic, still relevant today. The SAS, previously little-known due to their largely covert operations, set the UK standard in terrorist response, which decades later remains unchanged. It’s a shame that the story is rather bogged down by a sagging script and only basic character sketches.
CAST: Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Abbie Cornish, Ben Turner, Martin Shaw, Emun Elliott, Tim Pigott-Smith, Kip Chapman
DIRECTOR: Toa Fraser
WRITER: Glenn Standring
SYNOPSIS: In April 1980, armed gunmen stormed the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate, London, and took all inside hostage. Over the next six days a tense standoff took place, while a group of highly-trained SAS soldiers prepared for a raid, the likes of which the world had never before seen.