As Ben Affleck's "Argo" effectively demonstrated, movies based on real-life events such as the 444-day Iran hostage crisis can be every bit as tensely unpredictable and thoroughly entertaining as their entirely fictional counterparts.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for the considerably less compelling "6 Days," a stiffly executed re-creation of the events surrounding the 1980 hostage-taking attack on London's Iranian Embassy that packs all the high-stakes intrigue of a filed police report.
On March 30 of that year, as the siege of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was closing in on its sixth month, a half-dozen heavily armed Iranian Arab gunmen stormed the Iranian Embassy in South Kensington and threatened to begin systematically killing all 26 hostages if their demands weren't met.
Screenwriter Glenn Standring portrays the ensuing standoff from the point of view of three main characters — a poised hostage negotiator (Mark Strong) well-versed in stall tactics, an intrepid on-the-street TV reporter (Abbie Cornish) and a gung-ho member of the Special Air Service (SAS) (Jamie Bell) ready to eventually take siege of the building.
It's an entirely workable schematic, but New Zealand director Toa Fraser never manages to link those elements with any sense of immediacy or take advantage of that built-in ticking clock to create much-needed momentum.
The Thatcher government might have met its objective, but "6 Days" can't help but feel like a missed opportunity.
Rating: R, for violence and language
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Royal, West L.A.