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MOVIES: Six Minutes to Midnight - Review

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Six Minutes to Midnight is inspired by true events, set in the runup to the second world war about a prep school for German schools in Eastbourne, England, daughters of elite Nazi commanding officers. It’s got the look and feel of a stiff-upper-lip British wartime homefront drama that ultimately goes nowhere fast – released as a Sky Movies original in the UK, Six Minutes to Midnight introduces us to an all-star cast of Eddie Izzard and Judi Dench, with the former acting in espionage mode as the man who is sent to infiltrate the school.

Mercifully keeping its runtime under the standard two-hour feature length presentation, Six Minutes to Midnight still feels a good half an hour too long. Its wrong man cliché is insufferable, the pace moves tepidly going nowhere fast. There are moments of suspense and the commanding performance by Izzard and Streep give Six Minutes to Midnight that extra pushing factor, but Streep feels wasted with so much of the attention on Izzard that she never gets the chance to leave her mark on the character. It might feel odd at first to see Izzard’s turn in a dark and series spy drama due to her comedic background, but she quickly settles into the role, as someone not quite as skilled as say, James Bond, her character quickly makes mistakes at every turn and the consequences are felt, even if they lurch a bit too hard into forced, stiff comedy at times and it doesn’t quite warrant the suspension of the disbelief required, but it’s an inspired casting all the same, and Izzard is one of the film's biggest strengths.

Six Minutes to Midnight has an Alfred Hitchcock-type set-up in its premise to the point where it almost feels like the man directed the film himself, the classic tropes of the director are there and there’s even moments that spring to mind films like North by Northwest, stretching out across the board: everything almost comes together in its final scene where the tension is at its highest but the film never truly earns that payoff, with the breaks between the tension almost killing the movie before it can truly begin and as a result it feels like too little, too late, when everything comes together in the final act.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction and if anything, Six Minutes to Midnight is held back by the limitations of the real-life events it is inspired by as it never quite feels exciting enough to grab your attention. This feels reminiscent of the equally forgettable espionage drama with Judi Dench, Red Joan – but director Andy Goddard, who has a background in Marvel Netflix television shows playing a hand in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist respectively along with Carnival Row, can’t elevate Six Minutes to Midnight beyond its status as an overlong, underbudgeted straight-to-streaming original that misses plenty of home runs.

Six Minutes to Midnight is available to stream on Sky Cinema/NowTV in the UK.

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