It may seem nearly impossible to create a taut, engaging thriller out of events where the outcome has already been predetermined (as they were in 1962), but the team that assembled this crackling political drama has succeeded. Thirteen Days triumphs as a story of the tests of human endurance, mostly because it never loses the sense of urgency of the situation at hand. With the aid of his perfectly in-sync cast, director Roger Donaldson never resorts to glossiness or pandering to present the film's tale of a conflicted president in the midst of chaos. Bruce Greenwood not only captures JFK's cadences and physicality, but also gives the former president an unmistakable core of integrity and believability. Kevin Costner and Steven Culp are equally nuanced as well; the film's most admirable trait is how it suggests the vitality of their friendship without resorting to pathos or cheap sentiment. It's rare to see a politically centered movie with this much heart: though Thirteen Days may not be as edgy or risk-taking as one might like, it is undeniably rooted in true emotion -- one of the rarest things to capture in popular entertainment.