This brisk Siege thriller revisits the 1980 Iranian Embassy crisis through the eyes of three of its central players. Jamie Bell is the stand-out as SAS man Rusty Firmin – all grim focus and studied nonchalance – with Mark Strong the film’s heartbeat as the police negotiator yearning for a peaceful resolution. Less successful is a third strand, in which dogged BBC reporter Kate Adie (a miscast Abbie Cornish) keeps the nation abreast of developments, Basil Exposition-style. The ticking-clock tension is only defused with every cut back to the Beeb’s radio wagon.
While the story’s ending is well-recorded, Fijian-Brit director Toa Fraser mainlines the build-up with clammy tension. The bravado of Bell’s squad is strained by endless training drills and false alarms, while despite his limitless calm the only upshot of Strong’s calls with the terrorists seems likely to be a colossal phone bill. This yin-and-yang dynamic between soldier and peacemaker offers the knotty observation that at least one party will end up disappointed by the outcome.
‘6 Days’ has a secret weapon, though: its authentic setting. Filmed adjacent to the real Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, it’s an eerie time machine for anyone who remembers the siege playing out at the time.