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6 Days review – Jamie Bell storms it in Iranian embassy siege thriller
The Billy Elliot star is terrific as the cocky, swaggering leader of a crack SAS team in an atmospheric real-life drama that’s short on suspense
T oa Fraser ’s real-life hostage thriller about the 1980 siege of the Iranian embassy in London (it skipped a cinema release and arrives on Netflix on 3 November) is thoughtful, well-made, with a couple of excellent performances – and just a bit dull. Told with not quite enough suspense, its pin stays firmly in the grenade as six armed men storm the embassy in Kensington, taking 26 hostages and demanding the release of prisoners in southern Iran.
Still, it’s satisfying to see Jamie Bell , who has sometimes seemed to be stuck in a limbo of man-child roles, properly grown up. Here he plays an SAS soldier leading a team of heavily armed, black-clad heavies called in as backup should talks stall with the terrorists, who are threatening to kill one hostage an hour. Mark Strong gives a smart, subtle performance as the brains to Bell’s brawn – the detective in charge of negotiations. He’s rather repressed in the stiff-upper-lip tradition but also empathic. (As he builds a rapport with the gunmen’s leader, you sense him becoming emotionally invested in a non-violent outcome.) Outside the embassy, BBC journalist Kate Adie (a distractingly stiff performance by the Australian actor Abbie Cornish ) is reporting on the crisis, watched by millions on TV.
The action takes place over the six days of the siege, moment to moment, the clock ticking. It’s leanly told from multiple points of view, without lingering too much on characterisation (with the exception of telephone calls made by Strong’s detective to his worried wife – a role so thin it could win prizes for dullest female character of the year). We get a glimpse inside the corridors of power, too. The late Tim Pigott-Smith , in one of his final performances, plays home secretary Willie Whitelaw, who communicates the still relatively new prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to negotiate with terrorists at Cobra meetings – and her apparent lack of squeamishness at sending in the SAS and risking a bloodbath.
The best scenes involve the SAS. Bell is terrific – a combination of cocky swagger and perfect focus – and there are a couple of stomach-lurching moments when his adrenaline-pumped squad are poised to launch an assault on the embassy, only to be told to stand down with seconds to spare. Then it’s back to tea and a ciggie in front the snooker. Director Fraser was clearly taking notes during Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and, as a period piece, 6 Days is nicely detailed – the interiors, clothes and cars all in shades of fag-ash brown.
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6 Days Reviews
If not entirely compelling, 6 Days gives us a little to chew on from several different perspectives of these well-known events.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Sep 7, 2019
It's a shame that the story is rather bogged down by a sagging script and only basic character sketches.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Feb 21, 2019
6 Days felt unfortunately like 6 months.
Full Review | Original Score: 5.5/10 | Oct 11, 2018
6 Days takes on a storied event and presents it as a riveting tale delivered with precision and focus.
Full Review | Original Score: 7.5/10 | Oct 10, 2018
Desultory and routine, utterly lacking tension and suspense.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4 | Feb 28, 2018
Don't expect 90 minutes of action. Instead, writer Glenn Standring and director Toa Fraser take a different approach, providing us with a taut, detailed thriller that re-creates a significant chapter in the history of international terrorism.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Dec 22, 2017
More boring than any report from the BBC. [Full Review in Spanish]
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Nov 27, 2017
Boring and flat. [Full Review in Spanish]
Full Review | Nov 27, 2017
[Toa Fraser's] gaze goes directly to the facts without dramatizing, much less melodramatizing. [Full Review in Spanish]
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 27, 2017
... accurate and unambitious recreation of the hostage crisis in the embassy of Iran in London in 1980. [Full review in Spanish]
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 20, 2017
Reenactment of 1980 embassy takeover has blood, violence.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Nov 14, 2017
Bell is terrific - a combination of cocky swagger and perfect focus ...
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 3, 2017
There is a payoff here, even if the film does come across like an oddly nostalgic ode to the hard-line stance of Britain's 'Iron Lady', Margaret Thatcher.
Full Review | Oct 10, 2017
For the most part, the results are pleasing and unexpectedly thoughtful.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Oct 9, 2017
Right off the bat the viewer is placed in the exact same situation the police and hostages were at the time, setting the precedence for an immersive, if somewhat generic action thriller.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Oct 3, 2017
Effortless and straightforward, resulting in a pleasing and most importantly, satisfying viewing experience.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Sep 20, 2017
... manages some tense moments and mild intrigue, yet it never allows much room for character development along the way.
Full Review | Sep 16, 2017
A solidly made reminder that the spectre of terrorism has been with us for some time.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Sep 6, 2017
Yet, despite ostensibly doing everything "right", for most of its run-time the film doesn't quite manage to deliver the thrills.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Aug 31, 2017
6 Days is a mostly well-made film based on true events, but its similarity to our current political climate makes it an uncomfortable watch.
Full Review | Aug 29, 2017
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Review: A Hostage Standoff Unfolds in ‘6 Days’
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By Ben Kenigsberg
- Aug. 17, 2017
“6 Days” is drawn from a real event in 1980 when gunmen who identified themselves as members of Iran’s Arabic-speaking minority took 26 hostages at the Iranian Embassy in London. (The unrelated Iran hostage crisis was unfolding in Tehran at the time.)
From a structural standpoint, what is interesting about this dramatization of events is that it only occasionally strays from the vantage points of those on the outside. That puts the viewer in the shoes of the government officials and other onlookers as they weigh various options — loading the hostage-takers onto a bus to Heathrow Airport and raiding the bus, entering the embassy through a skylight — for ending the situation.
The factions are accorded one major actor apiece: Mark Strong is an inspector with a police negotiations team, Abbie Cornish is a BBC News reporter, Jamie Bell is a member of Britain’s Special Air Service and Tim Pigott-Smith (who died in April ) is William Whitelaw, Britain’s home secretary. Over the phone, Mr. Strong’s character builds trust with the gunmen’s leader (Ben Turner). The last thread most compels the director, Toa Fraser, to violate the strictures on perspective.
With a barrage of title-card identifications, “6 Days” can feel closer to a re-enactment than a thriller. To the extent that the movie has a political angle, it’s perhaps gratuitously jingoistic. A closing note that the captors “lie in unmarked graves in East London” seems out of step with what precedes it.
Rated R. Violence. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes.
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Film Review: ‘6 Days’
Covering the 1980 terrorist invasion of London's Iranian Embassy, Toa Fraser's true-life thriller is technically adept but dramatically muted.
By Guy Lodge
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“A renaissance for international terrorism” is among the archival newscast quotes used to set the scene in the opening credits of “6 Days” — a true-life hostage thriller methodically tracking the 1980 siege of London’s Iranian Embassy by Iranian Arab militants. The unhappy irony, of course, is that few viewers would be able to identity any particular era from that soundbite, and Toa Fraser’s lean, cleanly assembled dramatization is in its own way resistant to historical specifics: Shot and styled in contemporary, ticking-clock action fashion, it compresses the complex Theatcher-era politics of its fractious standoff into a simplified West-versus-Middle-East conflict that registers as broadly topical.
Technically smart but dramatically a bit flat — with a triangulated multi-view structure that gives stars Mark Strong , Jamie Bell and Abbie Cornish minimal room to flex — “6 Days” establishes Fraser’s credentials as a viable handler of mainstream genre fare, but comes as something of a disappointment after the livelier exploits of his rollicking Maori adventure “The Dead Lands.” Following limited theatrical exposure, it is likeliest to find an audience through home-viewing channels: Generations who watched firsthand the landmark BBC reporting on the crisis, here honored by way of Cornish’s casting as gutsy newswoman Kate Adie, will be most interested in the film’s mildly pumped-up interpretation.
Younger or less informed viewers, however, won’t take long to figure out the essentials of the situation, as detailed subtitles in the film’s opening beats introduce key names, responsibilities and locations — lending the film a veneer of docu-style thoroughness without calling on Glenn Standring’s pared-back script to do much in the way of ground-laying or character introduction. Indeed, “6 Days” gets down to business with swift, cool-headed economy: Its opening minutes depict the violent takeover of the Iranian Embassy in London’s upscale Kensington district by six gunmen from Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan, with 26 hostages taken in the process. Scored by Lachlan Anderson and David Long to low, surging synths and stabs of percussion, this nervy, unfussy sequence remains the film’s most impressive.
The terrorists, however, barely come into focus after this agitated introduction, their individual identities skimmed over while their nuanced cause — a campaign for Arab sovereignty in Iran’s Khuzestan Province — is outlined in shorthand. Instead, Standring’s script rotates the perspectives of three unconnected British participants in the fracas: Max Vernon (Strong), the police inspector charged with leading the hostage negotiations; Rusty Firmin (Bell), a lance corporal in the SAS military team waiting in the wings should more peaceful negotiating tactics fail; and Adie, the brave public face of the story for viewers at home, but not a figure for which the film ever finds a clear narrative purpose — though the petty squabbling between rival reporters on the sidelines provides the film’s few moments of levity.
Strong’s anxious, one-on-one telephone exchanges with chief terrorist Salim (a fine Ben Turner) providing the dramatic meat of the film, though they’re hardly kinetic. Perhaps with this in mind, Fraser and Standring attempt to spike the film’s action quotient by sporadically cutting to Firmin and his fellow soldiers as they perform a series of warehouse practice-run ambushes, though it’s a questionable tactic. Without the human stakes of the live situation, there’s a whiff of padding to these scenes; moreover, they risk undercutting the urgency of the military’s climactic real-life invasion at (in case you hadn’t guessed) the six-day mark.
Nevertheless, this heart-in-mouth finale is executed with tight, focused clarity of movement by Fraser and editors Dan Kircher and John Gilbert: Many a bigger-budget blockbuster would reduce such a climax to a murky muddle of grunts, gunfire and fast cuts. Aaron Morton’s handsome lensing, meanwhile, resists the standard grainy-beige aesthetic of such period pieces, instead bathing much of the action in sleek, counterintuitive shades of aquamarine — correctly gauging the slightly clinical sangfroid of the entire enterprise.
Reviewed online, London, Aug. 17, 2017. Running time: 94 MIN.
- Production: (U.K.-New Zealand) A Vertical Entertainment (in U.S.) release of a General Film Comrporation/Fightertown, Ingenious Senior Film Fund presentation in association with XYZ Films, New Zealand Film Commission, Lipsync, Dog With a Bone Prods. Producer: Matthew Metcalfe. Executive producers: Nate Bolotin, Ian Dawson, Peter Hampden, Norman Humphrey, Gavin Poolman, Andrea Scarso, Glenn Standring, Aram Tertzakian. Co-producer: Norman Merry.
- Crew: Director: Toa Fraser. Screenplay: Glenn Standring. Camera (color, widescreen): Aaron Morton. Editors: Dan Kircher, John Gilbert. Music: Lachlan Anderson, David Long.
- With: Mark Strong, Abbie Cornish, Jamie Bell, Tim Pigott-Smith, Emun Elliott, Martin Shaw, Ronan Vibert, Martin Hancock, Tim Downie, Nicholas Boulton, Aymen Hamdouchi, Toby Leach, Robert Portal.
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Common sense media reviewers.
Reenactment of 1980 embassy takeover has blood, violence.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
People at opposite sides of an argument can find c
Max Vernon is a sympathetic police officer who's t
Six armed Arab men storm the Iranian embassy in Lo
"F--k," "s--t," "t-ts."
Parents need to know that 6 Days is a dramatized reenactment of the 1980 armed takeover of the Iranian Embassy in London by Arab terrorists demanding the release of prisoners held by the Iranian government. Quick and effective responses by a calm London police negotiator and a strategic British Air Force unit…
People at opposite sides of an argument can find common ground and see each the other's humanity, but it doesn't settle the argument.
Positive Role Models
Max Vernon is a sympathetic police officer who's trying to save the lives of hostages but also of the terrorists. Lance Corporal Firmin is a smart, brave soldier. The terrorists don't seem to have planned very wisely and seem puzzled that their plan isn't working perfectly. They want to be treated with respect but they're also oblivious to the fact that they're taking their war against Iran to the streets of another country.
Violence & Scariness
Six armed Arab men storm the Iranian embassy in London, threatening to kill hostages unless prisoners held in Iran are released. A hostage is shot to death. British military tactical forces storm the building and many die in a bloody shootout. The assault on the terrorists includes lots of weapons, grenades, and other devices going off. There's lots of scary yelling by panicky terrorists.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 6 Days is a dramatized reenactment of the 1980 armed takeover of the Iranian Embassy in London by Arab terrorists demanding the release of prisoners held by the Iranian government. Quick and effective responses by a calm London police negotiator and a strategic British Air Force unit minimized hostage casualties to two out of 26. Several terrorists died in the siege. The assault on the terrorists is bloody, with lots of weapons, grenades, and other devices going off. A hostage is shot in the head and his body is seen, from afar, being removed from the embassy. Language is often coarse, including "f--k" and "s--t." There's lots of scary yelling by panicky terrorists.
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- Parents say
- Kids say (4)
There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
6 DAYS reenacts the 1980 takeover of the Iranian Embassy in London by armed Arab militants demanding that Iran release Arab Iranians being held in government prisons. After the six men storm the embassy and their demands are conveyed, London police send a negotiator to deescalate the situation at the same time that a special operations Air Force team starts training for an assault on the building. At the time, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had made it clear that the U.K. wouldn't allow the terrorists to leave England -- their only way out was as prisoners or "in a box" -- that is, dead. During the crisis, reporters gather outside to cover the siege, and the military team keeps returning to the drawing board as they devise different, more effective ways of going in to rescue the hostages.
Is It Any Good?
This movie is a workmanlike, if fairly flat, depiction of the kind of story that often makes the news these days. Mark Strong plays the real-life Max Vernon, the chief police negotiator who does his best to buy time, keep the terrorists calm, and keep the hostages safe while rescue plans are being devised. The movie does a nice job of showing the emotional connection that can develop between a negotiator and a sympathetic terrorist. In this case, terrorist leader Salim ( Ben Turner ) seems to appreciate Max's efforts to help get everyone out alive, but in the end, he doesn't believe such an outcome is possible. The emotional toll on Max is great, and he appears to believe that by obeying orders he's been given to distract Salim, he has in some sense betrayed him. While this feeling is understandable, the movie doesn't really provide the in-depth foundation during the action to support the decision to spend quite a bit of screen time on that dissatisfaction at the end.
The filmmakers also don't bother explaining much about the difference between an Arab and a Persian, even though that difference is at the heart of Salim's and his fellow terrorists' grievances. Iran is a Persian nation, where Persian is the native tongue. Arabs like Salim, who speak Arabic, are a minority in that country and are discriminated against by the Persian government, based on 14 centuries of Arab-Persian animosity. More could also have been done to illuminate the terrorist strategy behind taking over the Iranian embassy in London, as opposed to just protesting or attacking Iranians in Iran. The fact that none of this is explained adds to the sense that the 1980 event is being treated more as an excuse to make a suspenseful hostage movie than to enlighten anyone on the issues that prompted the conflict. No doubt this depicts an iconic moment in British history that made the careers of not only police officer Vernon, but also BBC correspondent Kate Adie ( Abbie Cornish ) and Lance Corporal Rusty Firmin ( Jamie Bell ), who bravely led the soldiers into the building. Brits who watched the events unfold on TV in real time will probably appreciate 6 Days more than any other audience.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the philosophy behind terrorism. Do you think it's ever OK to threaten people's lives, and even kill, in order to get what you want? Would you change your mind if you thought the terrorists had legitimately been treated unfairly, or is violence always inexcusable?
What does 6 Days say about violence? How did all the threats of killing affect you?
Most of the hostages were Iranians who worked at the embassy, but by chance a British journalist and a British police officer were caught when the terrorists took over. Does this movie make you think about the randomness of terrorism incidents that have taken place in recent years? How can you live without fear?
- In theaters : August 18, 2017
- On DVD or streaming : October 3, 2017
- Cast : Mark Strong , Jamie Bell , Abbie Cornish , Ben Turner
- Director : Toa Fraser
- Studio : Lionsgate
- Genre : Drama
- Run time : 94 minutes
- MPAA rating : R
- MPAA explanation : for violence and language
- Last updated : May 18, 2023
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6 days: a tense hostage drama that makes for uncomfortable viewing.
Lee Jutton has directed short films starring a killer toaster,…
6 Days is a big, boldly waving Union Jack of a film, an awestruck ode to the firepower of the British Special Air Service (SAS), and the stubbornness of a government unwilling to give in to the demands of terrorists. Written by Glenn Standring and directed by Toa Fraser – who previously collaborated on the 2014 Maori revenge drama The Dead Lands – it chronicles the responses of the British government, army, police and media to the Iranian Embassy siege of 1980.
And while 6 Days tells a true story, as opposed to a hackneyed fictional tale designed solely to whip audience members up into a violently ethnocentric fervor against anyone with brown skin and a beard (looking at you, London Has Fallen ), one can’t help but wonder whether it was a story that needed to be told again right now, at this moment in history.
Running Out Of Time
The film begins on April 30, 1980, as six armed men storm the Iranian embassy in London and take everyone within it hostage. The men are Iranian Arabs who wish for the Iranian province of Khuzestan, also known as Arabistan, to be liberated from Iranian rule and established as an autonomous Arab state. Before they release their hostages at the embassy, they want all Arab prisoners released from Khuzestan prisons – and once that’s done, they want safe passage for themselves out of the United Kingdom.
Needless to say, the British government isn’t too keen on complying with their demands. Instead, a siege begins that lasts – you guessed it – six days, during which increasingly desperate hostage negotiators attempt to cajole the men into, if not releasing the hostages, at least prolonging their lives. However, as it becomes clear that little progress is being made in granting their demands, the terrorists’ trigger fingers become increasingly itchy.
In the meantime, an SAS squadron starts planning and practicing for what they believe will be the inevitable – an armed raid on the embassy to rescue the hostages. Ambushing the terrorists with guns blazing could be the only way to save the hostages, but it could just as easily lead to their deaths, and the powers that be are running out of time to make a decision to make or break the crisis.
Tension and Testosterone
Testosterone is the order of these 6 Days . Among the ensemble cast, Abbie Cornish has the only major female role in the film. She plays trailblazing BBC reporter Kate Adie, who reported live from the scene of the raid while crouched behind a car and set a new standard for literally on the ground coverage, yet Cornish smothers her natural Australian voice with an almost cartoonishly posh English accent that feels as though it would be better spread across crumpets with clotted cream than coming out of her mouth.
Despite the often inadvertently hilarious tone of her voice, Cornish’s portrayal of Adie as a bold woman who was willing to put herself in danger to get her story feels just as heroic as anything done by the SAS in the film. Said SAS is led by a scrappy and charismatic Jamie Bell as squadron leader Rusty Firmin (the real-life Rusty served as a consultant on the film), while Mark Strong gives a nuanced performance as police negotiator Max Vernon, charged with the delicate, dangerous task of communicating with the increasingly edgy men holding the embassy.
This talented trio of actors manage to do wonders with a script that doesn’t stand out in the slightest. However, one doesn’t watch a film like 6 Days for the dialogue. One watches a film like 6 Days for the intensity and the action, and those are two things the film does quite well. Not being familiar with the story beforehand, I had no idea how the film was going to end, which meant my anxiety levels were shooting through the roof during the entire thing.
Like other based-on-a-true-story thrillers, such as Captain Phillips , 6 Days is not the kind of movie that one goes to see on a Friday evening in the hope of unwinding after a long work week; one should be prepared to spend the next 94 minutes soaking up all of the stress and tension exuded by Bell , Strong , Cornish and company.
But Do We Need 6 Days Right Now?
Watching 6 Days is an uncomfortable experience in more ways than one – but, the primary reason why I was unable to fully enjoy the film had nothing to do with its quality and entirely to do with the current political climate. We live in a world where the President of the United States will rush to ban Muslims from entering the country because of “radical Islamic terrorism” but will hesitate to condemn white nationalists committing acts of domestic terrorism on American soil. Again and again, the news media chooses to depict violent acts around the world through a specific lens, one that demonizes people of color and glorifies the stubbornness of white men who stand their ground while wielding guns.
Yes, the hostage takers at the Iranian Embassy deserved to be stopped from carrying out their mission. Yes, it is heroic that they were stopped before all of the hostages lost their lives. Yes, it was a “raid the world had never seen the likes of.”
But did we really need to see it again? In the hostile, intolerant Britain of Brexit, do we need movies like 6 Days to glamorize the militarization of our world and to glorify the government of Thatcher? Do we need yet another movie starring angry Middle Eastern terrorists, as though that is all people from that part of the world are capable of being? I don’t think we do. And that’s why I truly felt uncomfortable watching 6 Days . I felt as though by watching the film I was being complicit in furthering stereotypes and prejudices that don’t deserve any more screen-time in the 21st century.
What do you think? Is it still worth retelling these episodes of history in our current political climate? Share your thoughts in the comments.
6 Days was released in the UK on August 4, 2017 and in the U.S. on August 18, 2017. For more international release dates, please see here .
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Lee Jutton has directed short films starring a killer toaster, a killer Christmas tree, and a not-killer leopard. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Film School Rejects, Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture, Bitch Flicks, TV Fanatic, and Just Press Play. When not watching, making, or writing about films, she can usually be found on Twitter obsessing over soccer, BTS, and her cat.
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Home » Film » Film Reviews » Review | 6 Days
Review | 6 Days
Film Title: 6 Days
Director: Toa Fraser
Writer(s): Glenn Standring
Release date: 7 September, 2017
Full Cast & Crew Info
Terrorism. It is everywhere. Literally everywhere. I do not just mean actual terrorist attacks. It is in the news, papers, chatter amongst colleagues, and TV & film. Now Netflix adopts the most used buzz word in modern times. The most recent Original that espoused the narrative concept was Bomb Scared. My colleague Jonathon Wilson made me aware that for the first time in a long time, I have allowed a Netflix Original out of my sight. 6 Days. A story based on real events. It really has an impact when that splashes across the screen – “real events”. It feels more authentic. Like you are about to embark on a journey through history.
Okay calm down, what’s it about?
In April 1980 at the Iranian Embassy in London, gunmen charged the building and created a hostage situation which lasted, you guessed it, 6 days . The mortal situation created a tense stand-off that involved trained negotiators, the police force, BBC journalists and the SAS. At the time, a group of terrorists implementing a plan at this level felt unprecedented, especially in the United Kingdom. 6 Days begins with the archived material consisting mostly of news footage and radio audio from the time. It presents Margaret Thatcher stipulating that the United Kingdom will not allow terrorists to bully them.
Okay, this actually sounds good.
Unfortunately, there are many aspects that are dreadful and does not give the real story justice.
Really? What’s so bad about Netflix Original 6 Days ?
I’ll start with the positives. 6 Days does well to put the days logically in sequence into separate segments. It slowly builds up each phase so as an audience you are riding on a continuously moving story as the hostage situation progresses. The narrative is regimented, organised and clearly linear. There is no way of missing anything. 6 Days obsesses with the attributes of each location, name and role. For most of the film, it throws the text up on the screen. Director Toa Fraser is markedly systematic in the way he approaches his filmmaking. In principle, this is Christopher Nolan’s nightmare; it almost feels too straightforward.
So what’s bad about it?
Maybe the production company spent the entire budget on Jamie Bell, Mark Strong and the setting, but forgot to put money aside to fine tune the script. It is terrible. The dialogue used is desperately above the surface that it makes the story feel implausible. It is not just the script that lacks quality. At various times the characters blurt out something at the wrong moment. 6 Days is one of the most dislodged movies I have seen in a while, which is a massive shame because the actual story, based on actual real events, was compelling and action-packed.
The acting is appalling. Despite Mark Strong’s efforts to make good use of a badly timed script, his presence does little to cover up the cracks of school-type performances. 6 Days clearly wanted to portray what happened in those days and that is it. In a way, it executes that well; the setting is well put together, the action scenes are okay, and the build-up of tension between each day is noticeable.
The director forgot that even with a reenactment, you still have to instil substance at a quality level to make it a memorable watch. For example, the journalist that perches outside of the embassy conveys zero personality. The only justified reason for her to be there is that there was a famous news reporter at the time called Kate Adie. The same can be said for all the other characters. They are purely making up the numbers and the roles.
Is there anything that is really positive about 6 Days ?
Not really. The entire story is ridiculously one-sided in favour of the United Kingdom against the Iranian government which can be expected in all media forms of today. Only one side matters.
Not at all. Netflix really did not have to ‘Original’ label this.
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Just a remake of the final option, yawn.
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6 Days (New Zealand/United Kingdom, 2017)
The film examines the crisis from five perspectives. There are scenes inside the embassy featuring (imagined) discussions between the chief terrorist, Salim (Ben Turner), and his lieutenants as well as interaction between the hostage-takers and their charges. We see the preparations of the SAS (Special Air Services), represented by Rusty Firmin (Jamie Bell), as they plan for the operation. Police negotiator Max Vernon (Mark Strong) tries everything in his power for a peaceful resolution – a pipe dream that’s never realized. Representatives of Thatcher’s government discuss options when there really aren’t any, especially when no Middle East countries show a willingness to become involved. Finally, an attempt is made to depict the role of the media via reporter Kate Adie (Abbie Cornish).
Overall, 6 Days works better as an educational experience than a source of entertainment. As with any fact-based feature film, events have to be taken with a grain of salt since the primary goal isn’t necessarily an accurate recreation of history, but Fraser and his screenwriter, Glenn Standring, appear committed to presenting an unvarnished telling. 6 Days works not only as a portal into what happened 37 years ago but as an understanding of the difficulties of handling hostage situations and why it’s easy for things to go very wrong. It’s a worthwhile film, especially for those with an interest in the place and/or period.
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Pizza maker Michael Moretti's life takes a sharp turn when he and his best friend Nick destroy a car belonging to mob boss Eddy "the Lumberjack". But Nick and Michael's blundering cost Eddy more than just a car and soon the damages total a half million. Eddy gives Michael an out - if he comes up with the money, he's off the hook. If he doesn't, Eddy burns down his pizza shop and kills Nick. And just how much time does he have? Six days!
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Whenever pirates turn up in a romance set more recently than 1843, you figure the filmmakers ran out of ideas. "Six Days, Seven Nights'' illustrates that principle. It's the kind of movie that provides diversion for the idle channel-surfer but isn't worth a trip to the theater. A lot of it seems cobbled together out of spare parts.
Harrison Ford and Anne Heche co-star, in an Opposites Attract formula that strands them on a South Pacific island. He once owned his own business, but simplified his life by moving to paradise as a charter pilot. She's a high-powered New York magazine editor (the third this month; Tina Brown should collect royalties). Heche and her would-be fiance ( David Schwimmer ) arrive on the tropical isle, he proposes marriage, she accepts--and then hires Ford to fly her over to Tahiti for an emergency photo shoot.
When their plane crashes on an uninhabited island in a storm, Ford and Heche are thrown together in a fight for survival. (I'd like to know what Ford's thoughts were in the scene where he dresses up in palm fronds to hunt birds.) Back on the resort island, Ford's friendly masseuse, an island seductress played by Jacqueline Obradors , and Schwimmer mourn their missing lovers and seek consolation, or something, in each other's arms.
The screenplay by Michael Browning has little interest in the characters--certainly not enough to provide them with a movie's worth of conversation. It's devised along standard formula lines, and so desperate for a crisis that pirates conveniently materialize on two occasions simply to give the movie something to be about. If you want to see a movie that knows what to do with a man, a woman and an island, see John Huston's "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison,'' in which Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr create atmosphere where Ford and Heche create only weather.
Not that they aren't pleasant enough to watch. Ford has a nice early drunk scene where he avoids the usual cliches and gives us a man who gets thoughtful and analytical in a sloshed sort of way. Heche is plucky and has unforced charm, and does a great job of looking searchingly into Ford's eyes while he talks to her. Meanwhile, Schwimmer and Obradors provide counterpoint, mirroring in low comedy what the stars are doing at a more elevated level.
Harrison Ford has an easy appeal in movies like this and never pushes too hard. Anne Heche plays a nice duet with him. But their adventures on the island are like the greatest hits from other movies ("Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,'' "The Flight of the Phoenix'') and when they have a couple of well-written dialogue scenes toward the end, you wonder why two intelligent people like these need pirates in their movie.
Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.
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6 Days | Film Review
Aaron B. Peterson August 15, 2017
On April 30, 1980, six armed men stormed the Iranian Embassy in Princess Gate, London and took 26 hostages in the process. These terrorists were affiliated with the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA) and their demands were simple: release their specific list of Arab prisoners and provide safe passage out of the United Kingdom. 6 Days documents the events leading up to and culminating in a dramatic siege of the embassy by the Special Air Service (SAS), six days after it was initially taken.
Presented in a linear narrative, Glenn Standring’s compact script presents an introspective glance into the horror of the unknown. Representing all sides of the conflict (negotiations, press, SAS, and eventually inside the embassy itself), the audience is served up a healthy dose of information surrounding the events as they transpired – without overwhelming us in the process – and showcases each group’s suspicions of the other’s intentions.
Forgoing the standard tropes of political dramas akin to 6 Days , director Toa Fraser elects to ratchet up the tension and present this story through the lens of a taut thriller. And though the running time barely eclipses 90 minutes, the proceedings never feel rushed nor the details ignored. Fraser stacks his film like Lego blocks, each one laying down the foundation of what’s to come, unfolding the narrative at a deliberately reasonable pace.
Carrying most of the weight of the film are Jamie Bell and Mark Strong, both actors strategically playing against type. As SAS leader Rusty Firmin, Bell casts his childlike innocence to the wind and seizes the opportunity to get tough and fast as a stoic man-of-action. Forced to prepare for a myriad of possibilities, Rusty remains steadfast in his determination to keep his team sharp and focused as a potential strike awaits even the faintest gunshot.
As hostage negotiator Max Vernon, Strong is tasked with eschewing his brand of no-nonsense confidence and instead paints a portrait of a man desperate to avoid any human casualties, including those pointing machine guns at innocent civilians. It is through Max’s negotiations with the terrorist’s leader, Salim (Ben Turner), that 6 Days expands its own ideology and presents us with an empathetic villain of sorts. Strong’s work is so deft and subtle, it isn’t until the film’s final act that we come to the realization that he has redirected our own preordained sensibilities to loathe a person like Salim, and we somehow have been retrained to identify him through Max’s eyes.
Though Kate Addie’s coverage of the incident was groundbreaking at the time, Fraser struggles to find a cohesive way to work Abbie Cornish’s spot-on take of the famed newscaster into the foreground. Reflecting back on her position several times, Addie feels more a spectator than a participant in the historical record – at least as we see her here – and leaves the film with its only true weak link.
Hollywood Outsider Review Score
Performances - 8, production - 7.5.
6 Days illuminates a forgotten moment in history in this tense thriller headlined by Jamie Bell and Mark Strong.
Tags 6 days abbie cornish jamie bell mark strong toa fraser
About Aaron B. Peterson
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‘The Mother’ review: Jennifer Lopez is a woman on fire, protecting her daughter just in time for Mother’s Day
Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Chicago Tribune.
Jennifer Lopez (with Lucy Paez, background) in "The Mother." (Eric Milner (Netflix))
It’s all about the children. If an action movie’s job is to kill as many adversaries as possible while retrieving and protecting an abducted child (preferably the protagonist’s), narratively it can put its feet upand dictate the rest. Long before Denzel Washington was a Man on Fire, long before Liam Neeson’s daughter got Taken, and long, long before the recent, expensive hunk of action cheese “The Gray Man” flew in one eye and out the other, we have yearned as a movie audience to see the kids get home safely, no matter how many corpses litter their path.
Now, on Netflix, comes “The Mother,” produced by and starring Jennifer Lopez as a crack sniper and go-between for two of the sleazier arms dealers on the planet. The character has no name. She’s the title, and the 12-year-old child (played by Lucy Paez) she never knew has been raised, happily, in Cincinnati. The beginning of her life had its difficulties: In flashback, one of the arms dealers, played by the sneering Joseph Fiennes, stabs The Mother in her belly mere hours before she delivers the unharmed newborn and disappears into her remote life in Alaska. Fate brings The Mother out of retirement and back into child-protection mode, when the sympathetic FBI agent Cruise (Omari Hardwick) makes good on his promise to let her know when her faraway daughter falls into the hands of mom’s enemies. Those arms dealers: relentless. But The Mother: more relentless.
The movie’s pretty good, especially the first half. Director Niki Caro knows what she’s doing. Yes, some of the dialogue credited to Andrea Berloff, Peter Craig and Misha Green includes lines such as “Treat her as you would a hundred snipers,” and setups of comical obviousness. (If you’re an FBI agent with very few lines, and you’re standing by a large living room window and you call The Mother a bad word, odds are 10 million to one you’ll beshot and killed by the time you reach the end of this sentence.)
We can all heckle that sort of writing all day, as we can the entire Man/Woman on Fire revenge genre. But director Caro (”Whale Rider,” the undervalued “McFarland USA,” the live-action “Mulan”) has a real facility with building routine gunplay — since movie gunplay rarely feels like play anymore, we should retire that word — into crisp, percussively staged and edited suspense sequences set against better-than-usual backgrounds. Plus Lopez glides through all the bloodletting and occasional moments of rumination like a star, because she is one.
The cast includes Chicago’s own Paul Raci (Oscar nominee for “Sound of Metal”), who adds a welcome dash of low-keyed realism as The Mother’s military buddy, now living in Alaska, played by British Columbia.
In other scenes, Spain’s Canary Islands portray Havana and environs, while Gael García Bernal takes the part of the other key sleazy arms dealer. He doesn’t have enough to do, by my reckoning. But the movie’s an overfull two hours as it is. “The Mother” offers some admirable wrinkles along the way; young Zoe endures and expresses more anguish than usual for this sort of plot device, though the movie zigzags from glancing emotional trauma to merry training sequences, where Lopez teaches Paez the fine art of long-distance assassination, as well as planting land mines just so in the snow.
What distinguishes Lopez in “The Mother” from, say, Rachel McLish in an ‘80s movie like “Aces: Iron Eagle III?” Not the T-shirts, certainly. It’s largely the degree to which Lopez (like Washington, Neeson and others) has unlocked the key to underplaying while seething, and letting the rage out precisely when called for. The second half of “The Mother” settles for the usual. But getting there makes for a fairly diverting series of melees in the name of child protection, with services rendered by a tough-love mom who does it all.
“The Mother” — 2.5 stars (out of 4)
MPAA rating: R (for violence, some language and brief drug use)
Running time: 1:55
How to watch: Premieres on Netflix May 12.
Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.
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2017 Directed by Toa Fraser
In the face of terror, a nation will show its strength
London, England, April 1980. Six terrorists assault the Embassy of Iran and take hostages. For six days, tense negotiations are held while the authorities decide whether a military squad should intervene.
Jamie Bell Abbie Cornish Mark Strong Martin Shaw Emun Elliott Ben Turner Aymen Hamdouchi Tim Pigott-Smith Robert Portal Colin Garlick Andrew Grainger Martin Hancock Colin Moy Toby Leach Xavier Horan Te Kohe Tuhaka William Chubb Ronan Vibert John Henshaw Tim Downie Sam Snedden Mia Blake Matthew Sunderland Emma Campbell-Jones Jared Turner Calum Gittins Ryan O'Kane Fayssal Bazzi Kenneth Collard Show All… Nicholas Boulton Scarlett Featherstone Venice Harris Marjan Gorgani Jeff Szusterman Phil Peleton Kip Chapman Ajayshri Scott Michael Wagstaff Brady Powell Jay Sutherland Joel Beckett Alan McElroy Dominic Hughes David Rumney Eric Colvin Sara Stone Margaret Thatcher Simon Elrahi Glen Levy Ghazaleh Golbakhsh Andrew Lawrence John Ramm Taylor Murphy Michael Denkha Robert Hartley
Additional directing add. directing.
Glenn Standring Hamish Gough
Norman Merry Matthew Metcalfe
John Gilbert Dan Kircher
Production Design Production Design
Art Direction Art Direction
Jon Bunker Jill Cormack
Set Decoration Set Decoration
Visual Effects Visual Effects
Lachlan Anderson David Long
James Hayday Paul Paragon Adam Martin
Costume Design Costume Design
XYZ Films New Zealand Film Commission Ingenious Media GFC Films Lipsync Productions Fightertown Imagezone Dog with a Dog Productions
New Zealand UK
Six Days, 6 데이즈, 6 dager, 6日間：2017, 6 ايام, 6 дни, 6 Ημέρες, 6 días, 6 jours, שישה ימים, 6 nap, 6日間, 6 დღე, 대테러 님로드 작전, Šešios dienos, 6 dni, 6 Dias, 6 дней, 6 Dagar, 6 วันล่าสุดขีด, 6 Gün, 6 днів, 六天
history action thriller drama
High speed and special ops War and historical adventure Politics and human rights action, explosives, exciting, action-packed or villain political, democracy, documentary, president or propaganda war, wwii, combat, military or duty spy, agent, intrigue, thriller or suspense terrorism, thriller, gripping, intense or political Show All…
95 mins More at IMDb TMDb Report this film
Review by cal 🥪 ★★★ 1
the title is misleading: the film is actually 95 minutes
Review by Ivica_Pusticki ★★½ 6
You know those movies that you start watching, and then halfway trough the movie you "catch yourself" scrolling trough Facebook or something...but you still kind of want to see the whole movie, so you don't turn it off after all!? Well...6 DAYS is one of those movies. Lost my attention halfway trough, but I still finished the damn thing. The ending was decent. OK movie for a lazy Sunday afternoon, I guess...
Review by Andy Summers ★★½
When your career starts off with a BAFTA Award win, it's usually downhill from there unless the right mix of blockbuster and indie roles present themselves. Jamie Bell came to prominence with his starring turn in Billy Elliott, before a variety of roles in the likes of King Kong, Defiance, and my own personal favourite, Hallam Foe, cast him as just another jobbing British actor dipping in and out of Hollywood with varying degrees of success. He also managed to bag a couple of fine fillies while forging that career across the water, Evan Rachel Wood for a couple of years, and new wife Kate Mara, have been Bell's other prizes in a somewhat stop/start career that brings us up…
Review by Jerome1994 ★★½ 3
How does one go into great detail about this movie? At one point reviewing these action thrillers is going to be extremely hard because they are almost all the same darn thing. This one just happens to put a little drama into it and that's it, this basically felt like an extended TV episode of some generic cop show. The acting and writing were bland and the story is very predictable, you have seen this movie 20 times before but done much better no need to see this one.
Review by Zig ★★★ 2
On a Wednesday in April 1980, six Iranian terrorists storm the Iranian embassy in London. Twenty-six people are taken hostage. The crisis escalates into a six-day siege.
Toa Fraser's Six Days is a compact dramatization of the week when middle eastern politics was placed front-and-center of an already embattled British government. But Six Days doesn't step back to give us the bigger, geo-political picture. It keeps its head to the ground and hyper-focused on the plot, which begins and ends with the siege of 16 Prince’s Gate, South Kensington, London.
It’s a humming ninety-minute thriller that’s perfectly built for the age of streaming. Small enough to not feel insecure with its lack of frivolous action, but it’s also taut dry…
Review by Chris Hormann ★★★½
A dramatisation of the Iranian Embassy siege in London in 1980, this plays things pretty straight, albeit the lion's share POV is from the Western perspective, where it would have been great to have had additional focus on the gunmen who stormed the Embassy. There are some brief moments between Mark Strong (the chief negotiator) and Aymen Hamdouchi as the lead gunman but we hear little of his or his cohorts' background. The final assault is tense and well choreographed so that the final outcome (while it may exist in history) is still in doubt right until the end.
Review by Michael Jones ★★★
Manages to overall be rather serviceable despite often being dull and containing the worst English accent I've ever heard from Abbie Cornish.
Review by Yo_Roboto ★★★½
This is my Argo .
Sorry, everybody, sorry. Fuck the police and fuck military propaganda and all that but (sorry) I just think all this tactical SWAT/SAS shit is just the goddamned coolest. Sorry. Breaching charges and flashbangs and checking your corners are just really cool to me. Sorry.
What we got here is a trim, competent thriller. For better or for worse, it's completely frill-less, opting for lean action and a straightforward dramatization of the real-life hostage situation, avoiding any perspective of the politics at play.
Margaret Thatcher seems like a total psycho.
Review by Daniel Shillito ★★★ 1
Despite Abbie Cornish's performance and English accent threatening to self-destruct the rest of the movie, 6 Days is a tight, albeit unambitious thriller retelling a significant chapter in the history of international terrorism. Fantastic performances from Mark Strong and Jamie Bell elevate this otherwise poorly paced and cast film. The final siege of the embassy is well worth the slow burn however and the use of old archival news footage does actually quite well given the three-pronged narrative.
It's a film that could have definitely benefitted from being a bit longer and more fleshed out, giving the terrorists their actual motivations as opposed to the stereotypical and narrow-minded view we are presented with here, but that's hard to do when you have a charisma sponge-like Abbie Cornish.
Review by Luis_989 ★★★ 2
Entertaining for most of its duration, but you will forget it as soon as you finish it.
Review by Imm0rtalVJ ★★★½
Brilliant film. Excellent film with a great cast! Had me gripped till the end. Mark's Strong performance is outstanding. Must watch the film.
Review by Film_Sammlung ★★★
Aufarbeitung der Geiselnahme in der iranischen Botschaft in London, welche am 30. April 1980 begann und 6 Tage dauerte.
Sechs Bewaffnete stürmen die Botschaft in South Kensington im Zentrum Londons. Die Forderung besteht darin, 91 Häftlinge aus iranischen Gefängnissen zu entlassen, doch die Verhandlungen stellen sich als extrem schwer heraus. Um das Blatt zu wenden, wird die Anti-Terroreinheit SAS hinzugezogen.
Jamie Bell gibt den knallharten SAS Anführer, während Abbie Cornish die Berichterstatterin vor Ort geben darf. Am meisten glänzt aber wie so oft Mark Strong.
Wenn man so im Internet recherchiert, dann scheint der Film sich ja ziemlich an die Ereignisse zu halten. Die werden quasi über die vollen 6 Tage erzählt vom Anfang bis zum Finale, und am ende…
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Cannes: ‘how to have sex’ wins best film in 2023 un certain regard.
'Omen,' 'Goodbye Julia,' 'Hounds' and 'Mother of All Lies' also took home awards in the Cannes sidebar.
By Scott Roxborough
Europe Bureau Chief
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Molly Manning Walker’s Cannes festival breakout How to Have Sex has won the prize for best film in the 2023 Un Certain Regard sidebar. The astounding debut, which follows three British teens out for a summer holiday in Greece that turns dark, was The Hollywood Reporter ‘s hidden gem pick this Cannes and was among the most talked-about movies on the Croisette this year.
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The Un Certain Regard prize for best ensemble went to the Brazilian drama The Buriti Flower by João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora. The film traces the history of the indigenous Krahô tribe and their decades-long struggle for land rights.
American actor John C. Reilly chaired this year’s Un Certain Regard jury, which also included French director and screenwriter Alice Winocour, German actress Paula Beer, French-Cambodian director and producer Davy Chou and Belgian actress Émilie Dequenne.
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This controversial sci-fi blockbuster about climate change still polarizes scientists today
Did "the day after tomorrow" accurately depict our climatic future not quite. but some appreciate a deeper message, by matthew rozsa.
At the start of the third act of the 2004 sci-fi disaster flick " The Day After Tomorrow ," teenager and academic decathlon participant Laura Chapman shares her deep feelings of despair with her boyfriend Sam Hall.
"Everything I've ever cared about, everything I've worked for... has all been preparation for a future that no longer exists," Laura (Emmy Rossum) tells Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) as she shivers due to a combo of a recent blood infection and an apocalyptic snowstorm. "I know you always thought I took the competition too seriously. You were right. It was all for nothing."
"We passed out fliers at screenings, and brought images of real-world climate disasters to ExxonMobil's annual shareholder meeting."
Despite largely being remembered as a special effects-fueled extravaganza, this quiet dramatic moment may best epitomize the complex legacy of "The Day After Tomorrow," directed and co-written (along with Jeffrey Nachmanoff) by Roland Emmerich of "Independence Day" fame. It was the first Hollywood blockbuster to use its premise to focus on climate change and make bank while doing so.
A semi-adaptation of the 1999 book "The Coming Global Superstorm" by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber on a budget of $125 million (or nearly 200 million in today's dollars), "The Day After Tomorrow" grossed a whopping $552 million (in 2023, that's more than $883 million). It primarily tells the story of Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), a paleoclimatologist who unsuccessfully tries to warn America's political leaders — most notably Vice President Raymond Becker (Kenneth Welsh), an obvious satire on real-life Vice President Dick Cheney — that climate change is about to rapidly cause a new ice age.
Like many Emmerich blockbusters (such as "Godzilla" and "2012"), "The Day After Tomorrow" includes spectacular scenes of mass destruction, with apocalyptic ice storms smothering landmarks in New York City and ultimately covering the entire northern hemisphere. Yet in addition to being entertaining, "The Day After Tomorrow" also attempted to make an important political point by raising awareness about how greenhouse gas emissions are destroying our planet. As the film reaches its 19-year anniversary this week, it should in theory be celebrated as ahead of its time — particularly in scenes like the one with Rossum, who articulated views later expressed by Greta Thunberg and countless other future climate protesters.
If that's so, then why do so many scientists view the film with contempt? Simply put: It's a movie about listening to science — but it also butchers most of it in the process.
"I don't recall a lot except that the whole science was incredibly wrong," Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth , distinguished scholar at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Salon by email. His views echoed each scientist who spoke to Salon for this article, criticizing the movie's central premise of a rapid ice age and observing that "one does not get an ice age out of global warming." Although Trenberth acknowledged that science fiction " can be helpful in setting the stage for people relationships and politics," he scoffed when Salon referred to "The Day After Tomorrow" as a "work of art."
"You are kidding? " he sarcastically replied.
Trenberth has good company among prominent scientists in disliking Emmerich's arguable magnum opus. Dr. Michael E. Mann is a professor of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania and, like Trenberth, one of the world's most prominent climatologists. Prior to the film's release, a climate advocacy group contacted Mann with an early copy of the script. They wanted to know if the movie should be used to raise awareness. Mann warned them against it.
" In some ways, it trivializes concern about the climate crisis because it presents such a caricature of the science," Mann wrote to Salon. This is not to say that Mann believes the movie to be totally devoid of scientific merit: For example, there is an opening scene about a chunk of ice the size of Rhode Island breaking off, which Jack Hall describes as "sensational."
"In fact that first scene was based on an actual event (the collapse of Larsen Ice Shelf B) that had already occurred in 2002," Mann wrote to Salon. "There have been some similar-sized ice shelf collapses since. These are of concern because they potentially destabilize the inland ice (which, unlike an ice shelf which is already floating on water, contribute to sea level rise)."
These pluses, though, are outweighed by the minuses, at least in Mann's view. Indeed, for many years he would watch "The Day After Tomorrow" with first-year seminar students to deconstruct exactly what it gets right and what it gets wrong — and they regularly found that "i t gets a lot wrong."
"The animation of the 'ocean conveyor' that Dennis Quaid shows to the rapt audience at the international climate conference is actually going in the wrong direction," Mann pointed out. "A collapse of the conveyor wouldn't cause another ice age, it would just slow the warming in some regions surrounding the North Atlantic. And it would play out over decades not days. You don't drill an ice core on the ice shelf as he and his crew were doing in the opening science, but inland where you get a much longer record back in time. And an ice core record is just a series of measurements. There's no physics in it. So you couldn't use it to build a 'forecasting model' as he does in the film."
Mann's students also criticized Emmerich's decision to cast Gyllenhaal as a nerd: "But the thing my students were most skeptical about in the film was Jake Gyllenhaal participating in an academic decathlon. They just couldn't suspend disbelief on that one!"
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"The thing my students were most skeptical about in the film was Jake Gyllenhaal participating in an academic decathlon. They just couldn't suspend disbelief on that one!"
Despite this harsh view from some scientists, there are others who applaud the movie's existence. One of them is E mory University Physics Professor Sidney Perkowitz, who was so critical of the 2003 sci-fi flick "The Core" that his words helped catalyze the creation of t he Science & Entertainment Exchange . As its name indicates, the mission of the Science & Entertainment Exchange is to promote positive impressions of science for the general public. While Perkowitz derided "The Core" for taking excessive liberties with scientific accuracy, he did not have the same perspective about "The Day After Tomorrow."
"Despite scientific flaws, [The Day After Tomorrow] carried a message to millions that was important then and is more important now," Perkowitz wrote to Salon. He quoted his 2007 book "Hollywood Science," where he covers the movie in depth. In particular he noted that it had actually changed people's minds about the reality of global warming, prompting Perkowitz to give the movie a Special Award. After acknowledging criticisms of the plot and dialogue as trite, Perkowitz wrote that " the film has redeeming features. Though presented in clichéd style, the story illustrates scientific commitment through the conflict between Jack Hall's work and his relations with his wife and son."
Perkowitz also enjoyed the special effects, visual and audio alike, and observed "Jack's speeches to the UN delegates and to the President include true scientific nuggets about global warming. In this way, 'The Day After Tomorrow' draws attention to a real and current problem, with greater odds of doing serious harm than any asteroid strike or alien invasion."
As proof of this beneficial impact, Perkowitz points in his book to a survey by environmental science and policy expert Anthony Leiserowitz taken among 529 US adults before and after they saw the movie. It was viewed by roughly 21 million American adults in theaters upon being released, and millions more through DVD sales and streaming.
" [Leiserowitz] asked about concerns over global warming and the possibility of changing one's own behavior as a result, and about political preferences," Perkowitz explained. "For those who had seen the film, he concluded that it had a 'significant impact' on climate change risk perceptions, conceptual models, behavioral intentions, policy priorities… The film led moviegoers to have higher levels of concern and worry about global warming [and] encouraged watchers to engage in personal, political, and social action to address climate change and to elevate global warming as a national priority… The movie even appears to have influenced voter preferences."
This is not to say that "The Day After Tomorrow" changed the public conversation on a massive scale. At the end of the day a movie is, after all, just a movie — meaning it has limited reach.
"The film caused no change in overall public attitudes toward global warming because its audience, though huge, is only a fraction of the US adult population," Perkowitz observed. "Even enormously successful movies aren't seen by a majority of Americans and so can't immediately swing popular opinion."
Yet this does not mean that "The Day After Tomorrow" only had a negligible impact. "According to Leiserowitz's analysis, media coverage of the film and its science was ten times greater than was accorded the report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific report that solidified worries about global warming in 2001," Perkowitz writes in his book.
"Despite scientific flaws, [The Day After Tomorrow] carried a message to millions that was important then and is more important now."
"The Day After Tomorrow" also tackled partisan politics with a boldness not normally seen in mainstream Hollywood fare. Emmerich's movie has an undeniable "liberal tilt," as Perkowitz put it, such as clearly basing its fictional vice president on Cheney and having Americans illegally cross the Mexican border to escape the apocalyptic storms. Additionally, the movie raises provocative questions about how our species will preserve its culture if we are unable to prevent the climate change crisis from reaching a tipping point — a question that humanity has yet to convincingly answer . The impetus for these conversations in the film is that a group of survivors need to burn books to stay warm (a plight that on one occasions leads to the movie's most memorable laugh-out-loud line).
"Besides the book-burning discussion, [The Day After Tomorrow] even shows symbolically that all our stored knowledge, at least for Western civilization, is threatened when the tsunami due to climate change reaches NY's 42nd Street Library," Perkowitz observed to Salon. "But in the real world, most people and institutions haven't yet emotionally accepted that climate change is a real global threat. With a few exceptions, we haven't even begun preparing to help millions of people survive, let alone try to save the culture that defines civilization."
Although there have been efforts to preserve business and banking records, as well as the basis of the world's food supply (such as at Norway's Svalbard Global Seed Vault ), "I expect that if serious action to survive the effects of climate change ever comes, it will be by the skin of our teeth at the last possible minute, with saving print and digital books, art treasures and so on at the bottom of the list."
One group that hopes things don't get that bad is Greenpeace, an international nonprofit 501(c)(3) that focuses on environmental issues. After it was released in 2004, Greenpeace tried to use "The Day After Tomorrow" as a call to action.
"We passed out fliers at screenings, and brought images of real-world climate disasters to ExxonMobil's annual shareholder meeting," John Hocevar , a marine biologist and director of Greenpeace's oceans campaign, wrote to Salon. He feels that the movie " got the big story right. If we don't stop extracting and burning oil, coal and gas, we are in serious trouble in ways that may be difficult to predict precisely but will nonetheless cost trillions of dollars and many, many lives."
While he concedes that the movie "didn't try too hard to get the specifics right," he added that "it's hard to get too upset about that because everyone knows that whether it is a disaster movie or real life, no one listens to the scientists until it is too late. Hopefully this is the time we decide to break that pattern."
"The film led moviegoers to have higher levels of concern and worry about global warming [and] encouraged watchers to engage in personal, political, and social action to address climate change and to elevate global warming as a national priority."
Victoria Scrimer, Ph.D. , a lecturer in theater and performance studies at the University of Maryland who used to work for Greenpeace, has written an essay with her thoughts on "The Day After Tomorrow" . Scrimer argues that people need compelling stories to understand their reality, and that "The Day After Tomorrow" is significant for that reason.
"A lot of environmental disaster is what we might call boring (it takes place over a long period of time, with several different, sometimes unidentified causes, largely unspectacular until it's too late, etc.), and some research suggests humans are ill equipped to perceive and respond to long term phenomenon like climate change," Scrimer explained. "For instance, a 1994 study of risk perception suggests that we fail to recognize climate change risk because it does not fit into a conventional dramatic framework. The study suggests that 'climatic change' belongs to a class of 'hidden hazards' or problems which could pass 'unnoticed or unattended' to until their effects reach such a scale that can no longer be ignored."
This doesn't mean that Scrimer believes "The Day After Tomorrow" is a great movie. "I think it's valuable for how it highlights some problems with how we as a species prioritize information and concern and see movies like 'The Day After Tomorrow' as one way to do that." That is why "despite the inaccuracy of the film's anthropocentric, hyper-rapid depiction of climate disaster which troubled some scientists, many others were happy to grant poetic license to filmmakers for the sake of pushing climate change into the media spotlight. And it is true that this film did help bring awareness to the issue."
Perkowitz, for his part, also said that "The Day After Tomorrow" is "not a great film." Yet w hile "greatness" from a quality standpoint is purely subjective, there is an objective definition of "greatness" that applies to "The Day After Tomorrow." It is most apparent during the Rossum-Gyllenhaal dialogue, when Laura Chapman talks about preparing for a future that no longer exists, as well as during scenes when library patrons argue over whether to preserve The Gutenberg Bible and the works of philosopher Frederich Nietzsche for future generations.
If nothing else, "The Day After Tomorrow" is a historically significant film. While earlier movies like "Waterworld" and " Soylent Green " also depicted cataclysmic climate change, the topic in those films was more set dressing than anything central to the plot — and "Waterworld" famously flopped at the box office. By contrast, "The Day After Tomorrow" was the first Hollywood blockbuster to focus primarily on climate change and succeed, and was clearly distinctive enough that nearly 20 years after its release people still remember it and harbor strong opinions. Good, bad or indifferent, "The Day After Tomorrow" deserves to be seen — and, if humanity fails to thwart climate change, preserved like that Gutenberg Bible, as a relic from the earliest days when artists and scientists alike tried to pull humanity from the edge of the climate change cliff.
about science and entertainment
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- "The Last of Us" is an almost-perfect metaphor for climate change, but it gets one thing wrong
- "Soylent Green" scarred me with its disgusting twist ending – but scientists love its prescience
Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.
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Harold is an ordinary man who has passed through life, living on the side lines, until he goes to post a letter one day...and just keeps walking. Harold is an ordinary man who has passed through life, living on the side lines, until he goes to post a letter one day...and just keeps walking. Harold is an ordinary man who has passed through life, living on the side lines, until he goes to post a letter one day...and just keeps walking.
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- Goofs Maureen's first phone call is on brown phone in hallway; Second phone call it has changed to a business phone, then close up on handset is brown, then long shot is back to brown phone.
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