Thirteen Days


Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 31
  2. Negative: 2 out of 31

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Critic Reviews

  1. Fascinating in its depiction of presidential leadership in action.
  2. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: Chris Kaltenbach
    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. Newsweek
    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. Boston Globe
    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. New York Post
    Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    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. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Michael Wilmington
    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. TNT RoughCut
    Reviewed by: Andy Klein
    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.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Mar 19, 2015
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Thirteen Days

    Thirteen Days focuses on the Cuban missile crisis; specifically from the United States’ point of view. It gives us an insight of how decisions were made by President Kennedy during those 13 crucial days.
    The movie’s plot follows the Thirteen Days in chronological order. Starting from when the missiles were first discovered and ending when the deal was made. This film is a huge reminder of how close the world was to global annihilation with two great powers pointing weapons of mass destruction threateningly at each other. In addition to showing the danger of the crisis, the film’s plot clearly depicts how only a few people have control. The President has the power to order airstrikes and react to threatening situations such as that of the Soviet Union with the 40 and more missiles, all he has to do is make a call. The scenes in which President Kennedy makes his decision, and has it executed, shows how much power he possesses. One call can change the destiny of the citizens of the United States. This is still apparent today as President Obama is entrusted with controlling the United States along with its people. Even now, few people have the power to deploy weapons of mass destructions, such as the President. The threat of nuclear war, which the Cuban Missile crisis avoided, is still active today as the United States still possesses nuclear weapons.
    This film introduced a number of new things to me. I was not knowledgable of the fact that the generals kept pushing the President to have airstrikes and ultimately invade Cuba. The generals not only suggested this over and over again for the good of the people, they also wanted to redeem themselves from the failure at the Bay of Pigs. The continuously pushed the President, up to the point where he nearly considered it the best option. This invasion would have been the general’s successful second chance if the Cuban blockade idea didn’t come up. In addition to the tension between the generals and the President, I was also not aware of the fact that the President required the unanimous vote of the OAS (Organization of the United States) in order to go ahead with the blockade. He requested for these votes after the pictures of missiles being tested for launch in Cuba reached him. Lastly, I was interested in the fact that there were two letters sent before the deal which ended the crisis happened. The first was, according to the film, from Khruschev himself requesting that a deal could be made. This first letter gave the United States hope that violence was out of the question and that this crisis could finally end by peaceful means. However, the second letter sent was more aggressive. I was surprised with the fact that the administrators with the President suspected a coup during the second letter. Overall, this film helped open my eyes to a lot of the behind the scenes of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    Thirteen days kept me interested and on the edge of my side due to the fact that the President had to make decisions within a short period of time. This is a movie where you can clearly see that time is of the essence. The different opinions and views expressed during meetings with the President helped put the problem in perspective as the President worked step by step. I think the film did this really well as I could see how the gears worked in making a final decisions, I could also see where the President was coming from every time he made a decision. However, one aspect of the movie that confused me were the black and white scenes. I wasn’t sure if it was necessary to have only certain scenes in black and white. As a whole, I enjoyed the movie as it gave me insight into one of the most intense days in United States.
    This movie helped me picture this certain era as being unstable and fragile. There was a lot of pressure on the President from the generals, the administrations, the citizens and the press. Along with the pressure, the tensions between the Navy, the Generals and the President took a toll on every decision made during those thirteen days. The two powers, United States and the Soviet Union, had a tug of war game during this era. The United States had photographs of missiles in Cuba, but the Soviets denied it so the President sent in more surveillance. There was also the incident of one of the US planes being shot down, then to avoid any more violence and war a deal was made. This particular era was depicted clearly as being unstable with a huge lack of honesty as even in the White House some orders between the President and the Generals were not followed. Thirteen Days is an excellent movie and provides the viewer with behind the textbook knowledge on the Cuban Missile Crisis and those fateful 13 days.
    Full Review »
  2. 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 clichéd 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 »
  3. 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 »