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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 6 Days is a dramatized reenactment of the 1980 armed takeover of the Iranian Embassy in London by Arab terrorists demanding the release of prisoners held by the Iranian government. Quick and effective responses by a calm London police negotiator and a strategic British Air Force unit minimized hostage casualties to two out of 26. Several terrorists died in the siege. The assault on the terrorists is bloody, with lots of weapons, grenades, and other devices going off. A hostage is shot in the head and his body is seen, from afar, being removed from the embassy. Language is often coarse, including "f--k" and "s--t." There's lots of scary yelling by panicky terrorists.
What's the story?
6 DAYS reenacts the 1980 takeover of the Iranian Embassy in London by armed Arab militants demanding that Iran release Arab Iranians being held in government prisons. After the six men storm the embassy and their demands are conveyed, London police send a negotiator to deescalate the situation at the same time that a special operations Air Force team starts training for an assault on the building. At the time, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had made it clear that the U.K. wouldn't allow the terrorists to leave England -- their only way out was as prisoners or "in a box" -- that is, dead. During the crisis, reporters gather outside to cover the siege, and the military team keeps returning to the drawing board as they devise different, more effective ways of going in to rescue the hostages.
Is it any good?
This movie is a workmanlike, if fairly flat, depiction of the kind of story that often makes the news these days. Mark Strong plays the real-life Max Vernon, the chief police negotiator who does his best to buy time, keep the terrorists calm, and keep the hostages safe while rescue plans are being devised. The movie does a nice job of showing the emotional connection that can develop between a negotiator and a sympathetic terrorist. In this case, terrorist leader Salim (Ben Turner) seems to appreciate Max's efforts to help get everyone out alive, but in the end, he doesn't believe such an outcome is possible. The emotional toll on Max is great, and he appears to believe that by obeying orders he's been given to distract Salim, he has in some sense betrayed him. While this feeling is understandable, the movie doesn't really provide the in-depth foundation during the action to support the decision to spend quite a bit of screen time on that dissatisfaction at the end.
The filmmakers also don't bother explaining much about the difference between an Arab and a Persian, even though that difference is at the heart of Salim's and his fellow terrorists' grievances. Iran is a Persian nation, where Persian is the native tongue. Arabs like Salim, who speak Arabic, are a minority in that country and are discriminated against by the Persian government, based on 14 centuries of Arab-Persian animosity. More could also have been done to illuminate the terrorist strategy behind taking over the Iranian embassy in London, as opposed to just protesting or attacking Iranians in Iran. The fact that none of this is explained adds to the sense that the 1980 event is being treated more as an excuse to make a suspenseful hostage movie than to enlighten anyone on the issues that prompted the conflict. No doubt this depicts an iconic moment in British history that made the careers of not only police officer Vernon, but also BBC correspondent Kate Adie (Abbie Cornish) and Lance Corporal Rusty Firmin (Jamie Bell), who bravely led the soldiers into the building. Brits who watched the events unfold on TV in real time will probably appreciate 6 Days more than any other audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the philosophy behind terrorism. Do you think it's ever OK to threaten people's lives, and even kill, in order to get what you want? Would you change your mind if you thought the terrorists had legitimately been treated unfairly, or is violence always inexcusable?
What does 6 Days say about violence? How did all the threats of killing affect you?
Most of the hostages were Iranians who worked at the embassy, but by chance a British journalist and a British police officer were caught when the terrorists took over. Does this movie make you think about the randomness of terrorism incidents that have taken place in recent years? How can you live without fear?
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