The Cuban Missle Crisis was a pivotal moment in American history because the U.S. became frighteningly close to engaging in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. What's so great about "Thirteen Days" is it allows the audience to experience this moment in history as if we actually lived it. It felt as if I was in the same room with President Kennedy and his cabinet making crucial decisions that would affect billions of lives (and potentially cause millions of deaths.) Because of that, this film is an utter success! What else can you say about a movie, that you already know the outcome of, yet remains remarkably suspenseful? Brilliant direction, that's it!
This is probably Roger Donaldson's first excellent picture. Previously, he directed the misfired "Dante's Peak" and the borderline sci-fi flick "Species" along with a number of more forgettable pictures. Perhaps it's a good thing he decided to work on something more down-to-earth. If Dante's Peak was nothing else, it was exciting -- and that quality thankfully surfaces with "Thirteen Days."
I won't say that "Thirteen Days" is a barrel of thrills it is, after all, a talky political drama that will automatically put a certain category of moviegoers to sleep. However, if you lived through "Apollo 13" and "Dr. Strangelove" then this one is highly recommended. Keep in mind "Thirteen Days" should be considered a lesser effort of the three but not by much.
I think every American should see this movie. It brilliantly illustrates one of America's most beloved presidents in his shining moment. He persevered and prevented a grand scale nuclear war even though powerful military generals thirsted for it. And yes folks, this is the principle reason President Kennedy appears on the half-dollar (replacing Benjamin Franklin!)
Oh, I suppose I should mention that Kevin Costner is in this flick, though only as a mere producer, he hadn't the complete creative control over the film. (Though I'd imagine those in control would have taken any of his advice.) His movie record is rather splotchy boasting such successes as "Dancing With Wolves" and notorious downers such as "The Postman." He has commendable acting abilities and that shows well in this film. There is a long list of actors who probably could have carried this movie better than Costner, but he does a fine job just the same.
My sole complaint with this film is it's a tad too long. There were moments where the film's suspense substantially lagged and they should have been cut down. Perhaps then a greater audience could appreciate this movie -- especially those young Americans who sadly never heard of the Cuban Missle Crisis.
Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp, Dylan Baker, Henry Strozier, Frank Wood, Michael Fairman, Len Cariou, Janet Coleman, Stephanie Romanov, Bill Smitrovich, Ed Lauter, Dakin Matthews
Don Ignacio's score: B+
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