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Thirteen Days (DVD) Review

Snubbed by the Academy Awards, Thirteen Days is one of the best films of 2000. Valuable for its historical accuracy alone, Thirteen Days chronicles the pivotal moments of the Cuban Missile crisis in October of 1962. Unlike countless films before it, Thirteen Days creates a true edge-of-your-seat atmosphere even through scenes with little or no physical action (i.e., common dialogue and men gathered around tables), and the film manages to maintain a certain level of suspense even though the audience knows the final outcome.

Kenny O'Donnell (Kevin Costner), Special Assistant to the President, is caught up in one of the greatest crises in human history when a conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union threatens to spark a nuclear war. When the CIA informs President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) that the Soviet Union is secretly attempting to set up nuclear missile launch sites on the island of Cuba, the president must quickly determine which decisions will protect United States interests and avert an unprecedented nuclear war.

Surrounded by top aides, President Kennedy must choose between a series of options that include sanctions, a naval blockade of Cuba, and an all-out invasion of the Caribbean island. Ultimately, Kennedy chooses a naval blockade. But Soviet vessels have already set sail for Cuba. Will they run the blockade? Will they turn back? In the end, the president must rely on a historic United Nations presentation by US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson (Michael Fairman), cool negotiations from his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp), and quite a bit of divine intervention to avoid what will be an inevitable civilization ending war in the absence of perfect decision-making.

Although Kevin Costner fulfills his role well in Thirteen Days, I personally found it quite annoying listening to his hackneyed fake Bostonian accent. It's so out-of-the-ordinary (perhaps because audiences are already so familiar with Costner) that it detracts from one's ability to enjoy the film. This is truly sad, because Thirteen Days showcases extraordinary performances by Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp in their portrayals of John and Robert Kennedy. Perhaps it's the magnitude of what's at stake in the storyline, but Greenwood and Culp are so convincing that the viewer almost begins to see them as the genuine articles.

Given the subject matter, Thirteen Days is one of those rare films that can ratchet up the tension even in its down scenes. Perhaps for psychological reasons, audiences tend to become more involved in books and films which tackle actual true-to-life events. Thirteen Days deals with a short period when the world came within a hair's width of nuclear annihilation and that makes for a movie wrought with far more tension that your typical drama. You won't want to miss this film. Because of its outstanding ability to capture onscreen one of the pivotal turning points of human history, Thirteen Days is a definite must-see movie.

Submitted by:

Britt Gillette

Britt Gillette is author of The DVD Report, a blog where you can find more reviews like this one. Source: http://thedvdreport.blogspot.com/2006/02/thirteen-days-dvd.html


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