Thirteen Days (2000)
Another Kevin Costner film?! I’d rather suffer uncontrollable urination problems!” you could be saying to yourself. After Costner’s recent track record, hearing that he’ll have full Bostonian accent in hand seems a little nerve-racking. But despite Costner’s beantown speech 13 Days is a real surprise in just how much tension it actually wrings from the true story of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Though 13 Days will suffer from the same problem Titanic did, people know their history and know how it ends. Though we all know we weren’t obliterated in nuclear war (At least I hope the majority of us know) 13 Days shows us the suspense through back-door politics as a fly on the wall in the White House. The audience sees all the political wrangling and power struggles in this cat-and-mouse game that made two nations hold their breathes in a high stakes stare-down. Bruce Greenwood, mainly known for beguiling Tommy Lee Jones in an assortment of flicks, plays our Commander in Chief John F. Kennedy. Costner seems to be a presidential advisor that could easily be mistaken for JFK’s imaginary friend the amount of time they spend together alone. Steven Culp plays Bobby Kennedy, and the fab threesome make up the core team that handled this bombastic situation. Of course there are dozens of other individuals involved within varying degrees, with the military leaders wanting procedures to lead them to inevitable war with Communist Soviets.
The warhawks recommend a Cuban invasion whereas the option of a quarantine hangs in sight as well. Through the next trying thirteen days stress will accumulate as options become more clear as deadlines become clearer. The political maneuvering makes for a gripping story, though a tad punched up at certain areas. It proves time and again that history makes the best stories.
Let’s get down to what’s on everyone’s mind: how much is the suck-ratio zooming on Kevin Costner in this picture? Well, his accent is very very jarring to begin with but you kind of get used to it after ten minutes of wear and tear. Costner does an alright acting job but the real spotlight is on the Kennedy brothers. Greenwood and Culp turn in star-making performances that gives human glimpses to the already prolific Kennedys. Culp is outstanding as Bobby, showing that the superiors discount him because of his young age but that he’s a shrewd and thoughtful politician. Greenwood doesn’t exactly sound like JFK but he adds particular dimension to the man behind the center of the crisis.
13 Days is a prime example of showing how intense and frightening fiction can be. Director Roger Donaldson uses black and white interludes for no real reason, but his final product is one of nail-biting suspense.
Nate’s Grade: B+