Costner had brilliant luck in the past with Oliver Stone’s unforgettable “JFK”. Now he turns his attention to headline a project based on the other most famous incident of John F. Kennedy’s reign in the White House, with sadly more conventional – though still gripping results. “13 Days” shouldn’t be detracted from what it is, but rather what it could’ve been.
As is, it is a solid drama covering the more human side of those involved at the very top of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The acting is solid, especially from Bruce Greenwood as JFK and Steven Culp who is almost scary in his resemblance to the real Robert Kennedy. Costner is Costner, you’ll like him or not but the very annoying and strange accent he puts on certainly doesn’t help matters. Dylan Baker is always great to see and while he get some tense scenes, they’re not really a testament to his great and under-rated talent.
What kills the film is the scope. It does cover the events well, but due to the situation the scenes of the actual crisis itself (eg. the ships, the missiles) feel like they’re from a completely different movie and are interspersed with events in Washington which feel like they’ve been shot on a backlot than the actual White House (funnily enough a show like “The West Wing” doesn’t suffer from the same problem).
The script is fine, but relatively pedestrian though there’s a twist at the end that caught a few people I was watching it with by surprise. The directing is the same, a surprise considering the more epic feel in some of Director Roger Donaldson’s earlier films. There’s an annoying ‘switch to black and white’ trick early on which dies off after the first act thankfully. The film also goes on about 15 minutes too long whilst the end isn’t particularly satisfying. Its fine as is, but much like “The Sixth Day” was compared to Arnie’s past work, it basically feels like a very conventional and un-ballsy film for Costner.