Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 31
  2. Negative: 2 out of 31
  1. Fascinating in its depiction of presidential leadership in action.
  2. 100
    A terrifically engrossing war film in which not a single shot is fired, a movie about shaping events rather than being shaped by them.
  3. A mesmerizingly suspenseful drama.
  4. A big, square, rousing political thriller docudrama.
  5. An excellent movie about a real-life nail-biter, forcefully acted, true to its period and directed with clarity.
  6. 83
    One of the most exciting American movies about recent political history since, ironically, Oliver Stone's "JFK."
  7. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Keeps you hanging on every twist and turn of its wilder-than-fiction plot.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Once this 2 1/4-hour slow-starter finally finds its rhythm, we're reminded of how gripping policy give-and-take around a long rectangular table can be.
  9. Greenwood, whose range has carried him from the lonely widower of "The Sweet Hereafter" to the creepy husband of "Double Jeopardy," gives a star-making performance.
  10. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    It turns the nerve-fraying Cuban missile crisis into a big pop myth with the grip of a vise.
  11. A deeply involving and disturbing movie.
  12. 75
    Plays like a very good TV movie. Short on visual flair and starpower, Thirteen Days is not the definitive story of the Cuban missile crisis, but it's an engrossing historical lesson nonetheless.
  13. Even though the actors are good, their characters stay stock.
  14. The subject is so gripping that you almost forgive the filmmakers for skewing their material in order to keep Costner's pretty face at the center of everything that happens.
  15. 75
    I call the movie a thriller, even though the outcome is known, because it plays like one: We may know that the world doesn't end, but the players in this drama don't, and it is easy to identify with them.
  16. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    The players don't particularly look like their historical models, but they make us feel their life-threatening pain and puzzlement.
  17. 70
    A refreshing breakaway from both idolatry and cynicism.
  18. I much prefer the whacked-out, Dr. Strangelove-ish brand of political-apocalypse film to all this straitlaced you-are-there dramaturgy, which seems a throwback to the early sixties not only in time but in spirit. But what Thirteen Days sets out to do it does admirably.
  19. 70
    Greenwood gives a nuanced performance that may be the film's best work, but at times his surface dissimilarities to JFK are jarring.
  20. Dealing with all these crises and decisions gives Thirteen Days a surprising amount of tension and watchability for a story whose outcome we already know.
  21. 67
    A suspenseful breath of fresh air following on the heels of one of the dumbest Hollywood summers in recent memory.
  22. 65
    Assiduous, temperate, and a lot more honest about government and politicians than any other Hollywood film of the last few decades, Thirteen Days is nevertheless too little, too late.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Reasonably intelligent, well-crafted and dramatically understated.
  24. 60
    A tense and engrossing political thriller.
  25. Like President Kennedy, director Donaldson (who made "No Way Out," another pretty good Washington-seat-of-power thriller) has found a perfect balance of often-opposing forces: between recorded history and the demands of plain old entertainment.
  26. 60
    Kevin Costner is suitably flinty in 13 Days, a competent, by-the-numbers recreation of the events surrounding the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
  27. This thriller is a lot better than you might expect--especially for a Kevin Costner vehicle.
  28. 50
    The efficiency of his (Donaldson) direction renders the movie somewhat characterless, like a top-rank made-for-TV production.
  29. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    This overdone project dissipates its energy in strange ways (sudden shifts to black-and-white, as though hailing the spirit of Oliver Stone and that other Costner JFK movie), and makes you wish its makers had shown the same restraint the government did during the crisis.
  30. Reviewed by: Michael Sragow
    A thoroughly bland and mediocre movie about the Cuban missile crisis.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Apr 3, 2013
    Led by strong performances by Greenwood and Culp, Thirteen Days is an interesting and taught political drama, even if the final outcome isLed by strong performances by Greenwood and Culp, Thirteen Days is an interesting and taught political drama, even if the final outcome is known to all (hint we weren't all incinerated by mutual nuclear destruction). In addition to the Kennedy administration, the narrative covers the roles of both the military and US UN representatives in the crisis. I've always thought that the roles of military personnel in movies is clich├ęd in the manner they always push for war, but seeing as this film depicts actual events (according to the source book) it turns out that that is actually the case. In fact, in this case the military chiefs repeatedly undermine JFK's restrained by not cancelling a planned atom bomb test or spy flights close to the Soviet Union.

    The script faithfully recreates actual speeches given by JFK during the crisis, 'not merely peace in our time but peace for all time' and both Greenwood and Culp accurately nail the Boston Irish accent of the Kennedy family. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the film's lead and producer, Kevin Costner. His accent veers from credible to laughable to non-existent during the film and his failings are only highlighted by his co-stars' performances.
    Full Review »
  2. Nov 28, 2012
    Even with its occasional stylistic missteps and pacing issues, "Thirteen Days" still grips the audience and solidly establishes its worth as aEven with its occasional stylistic missteps and pacing issues, "Thirteen Days" still grips the audience and solidly establishes its worth as a tense and morally complex political period drama. Full Review »