Never mind that the subject is the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the potential incineration of the planet: Thirteen Days is a boardroom thriller, and a good one. For all the cutaways to aircraft carriers plowing through tropical waters, Roger Donaldson’s historical nail-biter is a bunch of guys sitting in rooms talking. Those guys include President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood), his Attorney General brother, Bobby (Steven Culp), and the usual gang of the best and the brightest, all given fetching (if shallow) dramatic immediacy by the film’s you-are-there conceit. If Days really isn’t more than a Very Special West Wing episode, the stakes are high (and real) enough to make you forget it.
Until, that is, Kevin Costner wanders in, playing Kennedy adviser Kenny O’Donnell and tugging around a Bahston accent second only to Rob Morrow’s Quiz Show mangle in its ability to induce shudders in anyone who has passed within spitting distance of Fenway Park. Costner’s very presence among the cast of relative unknowns spoils Thirteen Days’ verisimilitude, in fact; while the man certainly deserves credit for serving as a producer and getting the film made, on screen he looks as out of place as a homecoming queen on the debate squad.