Dramatisation of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis which follows the efforts of US President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood), his brother Bobby (Steven Culp), and others high up in the White House, to avert a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union. Focusing on events as seen through the eyes of trusted presidential aide Kenneth P. O'Donnell (Kevin Costner), Roger Donaldson's film traces the events which lead to the crisis, as well as the deals and bargaining which brought about its resolution, and shows how close the world really came to nuclear catastophe.
On its theatrical release Thirteen Days
was pummelled by American critics for taking liberties with the facts of the Cuban missile crisis and smothering its compelling drama with phoney Boston accents by its primary stars. But anyone who enjoys taut, intelligent political thrillers will find little to complain about here. Co-star and co-producer Kevin Costner drew criticism for fictionally enhancing the White House role of presidential aide Kenneth O'Donnell, but while Costner's Boston accent may be grating, his fine performance as O'Donnell offers expert witness to the crisis, its nerve-wracking escalation and the efforts of John F Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) and Robert F Kennedy (Steven Culp) to negotiate a peaceful settlement with Russia. While Soviet missiles approach operational status in Cuba, director Roger Donaldson (who directed Costner in No Way Out
) cuts to exciting US Navy flights over the missile site, ramping up the tension that history itself provided. Donaldson's occasional use of black and white is self-consciously distracting, and he's further guilty of allowing a shrillness (along with repetitive, ominous shots of nuclear explosions) to invade the urgency of David Self's screenplay. Still, as Hollywood history lessons go, Thirteen Days
is riveting stuff. You may find yourself wondering what might happen if reality presented a repeat scenario under less intelligent leadership.--Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
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