Thirteen Days

Review Date:
Director: Roger Donaldson
Writer: David Self
Producers: Kevin Costner, Armyan Bernstein, P. Almond
Kevin Costner
Bruce Greenwood
Steven Culp
Based on a real life event. The Soviet Union is stockpiling nuclear missiles in Cuba. The United States spots the warheads and considers them to be a little too close for comfort. The President and the rest of the big wigs in the government spend the next thirteen days grazing the possibility of an all-out war breaking out against the USSR. Who’s gonna blink first? Are the Soviets bluffing? Will Marilyn Monroe save the day?
Historians, patient moviegoers and those fascinated with the behind-the-scenes goings-on of all things political are likely to embrace this movie. I dug it myself. Certain elements from it reminded me a lot of two other great films, namely NO WAY OUT (8/10) and CRIMSON TIDE (9/10), although this film focused more on the talkie-talkie stuff, rather than any action, romance or humor. Of course, this film isn’t about that anyway. It’s about tense moments, tit-for-tat strategy sessions and basically, one of the greatest political chess games of all time. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, never once felt bored during its two and a half hour runtime and was gripped by its many strong performances. Ironically, the first utterance of Kevin Costner’s thick, thick Boston accent had me wondering if I had walked into a comedy or what, but it only took five minutes for me to believe both him, his accent and pretty much everything else that occurred in this movie from there on out.

You see, the Cuban Missile Crisis took place long before my time and I honestly didn’t know all that much about it before seeing this movie (me no Americanos), so every second on the clock was a captivating one for me. The jargon wasn’t too hard to follow, especially with the Kennedy brothers sharply tag-teaming their way through most of the hard-liners, and all of the main characters, very well drawn out. And what about those awesome suits that the brothers and Costner were wearing? Very cool! All in all, this movie is structured a lot like a play. Plenty of dialogue, lots of characters interacting amongst one another and very few distinct locations. One thing I didn’t “get” or like about this film, was the director’s seemingly arbitrary use of black and white vs color scenes. He pulled a couple of these babies early on and then stopped. Not exactly sure why. It was just distracting. But on the whole, the movie grabbed by the cojones and let me fly up on the wall during a pretty funky time of our history. Granted, it didn’t have me chomping fingernails the whole way through, but the tension was present throughout, the dead-on performances by Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp infectious to behold, and ultimately, the movie helped me achieve a greater understanding of the entire event as it took place, and allowed me to put my little miscommunication issues with the Missus in perspective.

You see, when the Mrs. and I miscommunicate, I don’t get any nookie for the night. But when JFK and Kruschev miscommunicate in this movie (couldn’t these guys just call each other direct?), the result could likely have turned into World War 3. Makes the whole toilet seat up-or-down debate seem pretty insignificant, eh?

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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