The Iranian embassy siege was something I remember well, played out asit was on live television and being a huge fan of the docu-drama genreI anticipated this film most eagerly. First of all it was a rightmission to get to see it at all and I expected it to have a much widerUK release. There was also confusing and conflicting information overthe exact cinema release date given over the internet (First the 4th ofAugust, then the 18th, then the 4th again!) Seeing it at the cinemaresulted in me having to travel half the country!<br><br>For those who don't know the story, in April of 1980 the Iranianembassy was stormed by six armed men demanding the release of hostagesin Iran over the mistreatment of their tribe by the Persians in Iran,but the UK had poor relations with Iran at the time and Iran was notgoing to give them anything. The UK was on it's own and for the firsttime in Television history, the actions of the largely anonymousSpecial Air Service, would be seen live for all to see. <br><br>The film is basically told from four main perspectives. An alwaysexcellent Mark Strong is hostage Negotiator, Max Vernon, a man acutelyaware that lives are literally in his hands, and the emotional impactthis has on him is one of the stronger aspects of the film and Strongsscenes are all appropriately gripping. Secondly is that of the SAS withJamie Bell, in a very different role, playing Rusty Firmin, one of thesoldiers leading the assault. Bell shows he has left the legacy ofBilly Elliot well and truly behind him and is superb in this role.Tension notches up appropriately as he and his team ready themselves togo in. Thirdly is the insight into the upper echelons of the politicaldiscussions which went on between Billy Whitelaw (Tim Piggot-Smith inwhat may well have been his final role) as the options are raked overwith an unseen Margaret Thatcher sending down her stance on terrorism.Ronan Vibert is noteworthy as the head of MI6 while Robert Portal playsSAS Colonel Mike Rose with the appropriate level of staunchprofessionalism while Martin Shaw adds gravitas to the proceedingsthough he is given very little to say or do.<br><br>Those inside the Embassy, both hostages and terrorists are fairlythinly drawn with the exception of the terrorist leader, Salim (A greatperformance from Ben Turner) and most of our insights into theirinteractions come via the other characters mentioned above. There islittle attempt to humanise the Iranian hostages, we know nothing forexample, about the one who is executed, so when this happens, we, theaudience, feel little emotional loss. PC Trevor Locke stands out alittle as he is given more to do, but just a few more lines of dialoguewould have enabled us to emotionally connect with the hostages from theoutset. <br><br>The fourth strand of the narrative is that of reporter Kate Adie andher cameraman, as they vie for the best shot over the reporter from adifferent rag (Either The Sun or The Mail, it wasn't clear to me) - Iremember Kate Adie well from this reporting and felt Abbie Cornish wasa little miscast in this role. She felt too glamorous with not a hairout of place and way too much makeup. This story line added very littleto film. She spots the SAS leaving to train at one point and indicatesshe suspects more is afoot, but never vocalises her suspicions, solittle is made of this. The interaction between her and the rivalreporter could have been the cornerstone of lighter moments in thisserious drama but they're lost and forgotten. This was the weakestelement for me.<br><br>The siege unfolds over six days and it is the relationship between MarkStrong's character and terrorist leader Salim that is the mostcaptivating. <br><br>Overall the film is paced well and Toa Fraser does an admirable job ofhandling the multiple characters and story lines, but the film startingas it does with the Embassy being taken, we have no time to get to knowany of the hostages or feel a connection to them. A ten- minutesequence at the beginning of the film giving us an introduction tothese characters would have made the emotional stakes a little higherfor the viewer. BBC Sound Recordist Sim Harris is given little to sayor do, so there is little context of who he is and the moment where hegoes out onto the window ledge (An image scorched into the memory ofall who saw it live on television) is not as dramatic and meaningful asit could have been. <br><br>The film side steps a few of the more controversial aspects of theraid. The terrorist who was captured was almost executed by the SAS outthe back before they realised they were being filmed by the televisionstation. I found the unobtrusive score lacked a dramatic emphasis atthe appropriate moments and made it essentially underwhelming.<br><br>Overall, however, this is a solidly made drama with good performancesand a suitable dour colour palette matching the setting of the 1980sand it shameful that such a drama, covering as it did, a flash point inUK history, did not receive a wider release. I would, despite myreservations, still recommend it.