|THIRTEEN DAYS (2000)|
|"If the sun comes up tomorrow, it is only because of men of good will. That is all there is between us and the devil."|
|Time: 145 mins.|
Since I wasn't born yet, nor have any real interest in politics or government, I was pretty unaware of the actual events of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I'd heard of it, but that's about it. I'm sure there's a whole slew of movie-goers out there in the same boat. For what it's worth, if you're interested in history, you will probably find the circumstances outlined in THIRTEEN DAYS extremely interesting. It is a well-crafted film that keeps you on the edge of your seat for 2 1/2 hours of talking. I had no idea how close the world was to nuclear war. If the Russian government hadn't blinked, I, and millions of others, might never have been born. This is highly compelling stuff and given the talent involved in the project I decided to check it out.
I'm still glad I did, but I have to jump on the bad-accent Costner bandwagon. I understand the need for authenticity and I'm sure this is how his character talked in real life, but it was beyond distracting to hear this grating, high-pitched language coming from Mr. Kevin. If he wasn't such a well-known actor, it would've worked, but I know he doesn't talk like that and I just kept wishing he would stop. This is the point where one has to decide if it's worth annoying people to be accurate. Since most people watching this movie don't know who Kenny O'Donnell is, it really doesn't matter if they match the way he talks or not. If it's going to hurt the film, and I think it does, one can stand to be slightly incorrect than across the board detested. Costner is a good actor, especially in material like this, and it's hard to let the film flow over you when you're so completely annoyed every time he opens his mouth. Though to give him some credit, he actually does manage to keep the accent fairly consistent throughout the whole movie.
Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp, as JFK and RFK, are amazing and give very impressive and impactful performances. They also use the accents, but because they are not as well known, it's not as odd to hear them speak this way. They have a real comeraderie that appears genuine. All one usually sees of JFK is the file footage of him seeming confident and in control. Greenwood's portrayal of an intelligent man desperately cautious, trying to make the right decision for the American public and the world is deeply touching and powerful. With betrayal from all side, JFK had to fight not only the Russians but his own advisors and staff to keep the world from nuclear destruction. Who knows how accurate the events of these 13 days truly are, but it sure is riveting. The only people's opinions he could really trust were O'Donnell's and his brother's. Everyone else had their own agendas, working around the President when he didn't make the decision they wanted to hear. After watching this film, I'm stunned we didn't start World War III with all the screw-ups and bad calls.
Because the film tells the story from O'Donnell's eyes, it's somewhat skewed when it comes to who was right and wrong. Kennedy, though he made some errors in judgement, for the most part is portrayed as the cool head, the one person who wanted to exhaust all possibilities before invading Cuba and basically pushing the button. The military officers are all shown as war hungry, men willing to do anything to be able to drop some bombs and take over the world. They gave valid reasons for their willingness to invade and potentially unleash armageddon, but you're pretty much against them from the get go. Maybe because we know how it all turns out, we are predisposed against those who want to take military action. At one point, it becomes fairly clear that the United States had very little choice, but you'd hope that these men, who hold your life in their hands, would chose to err on the side of caution, exhausting all negotiating avenues.
THIRTEEN DAYS, for the most part, is an extremely well-done film about a subject everyone should learn about. It becomes even more important who the president is after watching a movie like this. Donaldson does a great job uncovering the crisis and making the events both interesting and easy to understand. Though most of the film is of men talking to each other, the editing gives it an urgency and excitement I didn't expect. Costner manages to make you empathize with him and the horror he's staring at. The scenes with his family were supposed to impart how the wrong decision will wipe out the future, destroying families and killing children, but you don't really need that kind of thing shoved in your face to feel the anxiety and fear. Anyone who grew up before and during the Reagan administration lived under the fear of the evil Soviet empire. Though these 13 days were much more concentrated, the idea of nuclear destruction was never far from your mind.
I can't imagine that anyone under the age of 25 would be interested in seeing this movie, though they should. If only to make sure that history doesn't repeat itself. Though somewhat long, it still manages to keep up interest in the story. It's nothing you're going to remember forever or want to see over and over again, but it's a well-done political tale that illuminates a pinpoint of time that affected the entire planet. If you're looking for something a little different that will make you think and be glad that you're alive, check this film out. It's not everyday you get to see intelligent filmmaking.