The latest movie that my beloved and I have enjoyed is the new action drama from director Toa Fraser (“The Dead Lands”, “Giselle”). The film is based upon the real-life Iranian embassy siege in London at the end of April 1980 and is titled “6 Days”.
I was twelve years old at the time of the actual siege, so although I have memories of seeing images from the SAS assault that ended the siege I had little knowledge of the events that had led up to that point.
At the start of the film we see a group of armed men walking up to the Iranian embassy and bundling the on-duty policeman at the door, PC Trevor Lock (Toby Leach – “Shortland Street”, “The Making Of The Mob”) into the building before quickly rounding up all those inside. They took a total of twenty-six hostages, and demanded the release of Arabian prisoners being held in the Khuzestan province of Iran, as well as their own safe passage out of the UK.
Naturally the authorities are quickly on the scene, as are TV and radio journalists – including a young BBC correspondent named Kate Adie (Abbie Cornish – “Limitless”, “Seven Psychopaths”) – and sees Chief Inspector Max Vernon (Mark Strong – “Kingsman : The Secret Service”, “Before I Go To Sleep”) tasked with the role of police negotiator.
Margaret Thatcher’s government, which had at this point been in power for just under a year, arranged for a team of SAS soldiers to travel from their base in Hereford to Knightsbridge, where they moved into the building next to the Iranian embassy and prepared various scenarios in the event that they were required to take action against the terrorists. For the purposes of the film, at least, the main focus of the SAS activities is Lance-Corporal Rusty Firmin (Jamie Bell – “The Eagle”, “Filth”).
The film then tracks the six-day siege primarily from the perspectives of Adie, Vernon and Firmin as the viewer gets to see the action surrounding the events unfolding within the embassy, but little of what’s actually taking place inside – with the exception of during telephone exchanges between Vernon and lead terrorist Salim AKA Ali Mohammed (Ben Turner – “Casualty”, “300 : Rise Of An Empire”).
Other well-known names appearing include Martin Shaw (“The Professionals”, “Inspector George Gently”) as Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Dellow of the Metropolitan police and the late Tim Pigott-Smith (“Quantum Of Solace”, “King Charles III”) as Home Secretary William Whitelaw.
I thought that this was a really well made movie. Despite knowing the outcome in advance there was still a good sense of tension as each day – and in some cases hours and even minutes – went by and even though the film is noted as “based on real events” you get the impression that the filmmakers have tried to tell the story of what actually happened as opposed to using the true story as a mere jumping off point for a big and brash action movie. The end result feels like a very entertaining history lesson – albeit a very one-sided one presenting the Thatcher government’s position that the terrorists should only leave the embassy to go to prison or in a coffin whilst ignoring the backstory that lead to the siege taking place at all. Nonetheless, this is a film that is most definitely worth a watch…