It’s time to look at an old film about a villain’s plans to overthrow the government. It’s always a pretty interesting plot and we’ve had some solid entries like White House Down over the years. Well, this one holds its own with those more action centered titles. There really aren’t any big fight scenes here so the film is relying on its strong story and script to win the day. This was a wise bet and the film ends up being very solid.
The movie starts with Jiggs working for his boss Scott as per usual. He shows his boss the military videos of the drills in case America went back into war and unfortunately all of the divisions look quite terrible. Scott laments that the government seems rather weak lately and heads off for another political rally. Everyone has been on edge lately because the U.S. has entered into a Nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. Both sides will disarm their nuclear weapons and will count on the other side to do the same. A great many people disagree with the policy including Jiggs and Scott. However, Jiggs believes that such thoughts should be kept quiet in their case since they are a part of the army. Jiggs is fairly high up in the government as he is able to personally meet with the President and even more so for Scott.
Scott doesn’t share this sentiment and doesn’t mind taking passive aggressive shots at President Lyman. Well, Jiggs can tolerate that, but then he notices an odd note in the war room. Coupled with other suspicious bits of information he informs Lyman that Scott may be planning a coup in 7 days. Lyman’s advisors all disregard this but the President believes it’s worth looking into. He sends all of his advisors to different spots to verify the information and now has to decide what to do if a coup is in the works. Handling this will be quite dangerous and must be done carefully or the country’s divided status will be exposed to foreign powers.
From the start this movies adds a good amount of tension and nuance. It’s not like these are random murderers trying to cause anarchy. Scott is simply a guy on the other side who became more and more extreme as time went on. With all the support he would receive at the rallies, this only helped to further push Scott to the edge until finally he went down this dark path. Most of the people we see seem to agree with Scott but as the President points out, when you put yourself in a small circle you tend to only hear those who agree with you. It’s why the term “Silent Majority” was created because a lot of times the opinions you hear the most may not be agreed with as much as it would seem.
I’ll give Lyman a lot of credit here for actually listening to Jiggs. In a lot of these films everyone discounts Jiggs immediately and it leads to trouble. The only reason the heroes are able to stay in this fight is because they acted right away. Lyman ultimately made the right move here and he’s a lot of fun as the President. He handles all of the situations very well and is portrayed as a wise man. It’s easy to see how he got elected as President.
My favorite character though as Lyman’s second in command, Paul. Paul initially doesn’t believe Jiggs at all, but when Lyman gives him the orders, Paul follows them to the letter. He performs his duty well and I liked the scene with the Navy Admiral. Paul played it all very well and he even suspected that he may not survive the tale so he created a backup plan. Part of why I enjoyed his character was because he quickly swallowed his pride at being wrong and saw the bigger picture. I was actually expecting him to be a traitor for a while there so I was pleasantly surprised that this didn’t happen.
I’d say the only plot that felt really unnecessary here was the one with Eleanor. In order to get some leverage on Scott they send Jiggs to one of his old flames to find some information out. Unfortunately this leads to burning some bridges here as they liked each other until she finds out that he was just using her for the letters. While Jiggs didn’t intend for that to happen, he did ultimately do just that and it was a pretty sad state of affairs. He should have just come clean with her from the start or declined the mission but the way he handled the whole thing was pretty underhanded.
Jiggs was a solid main character otherwise though. He carefully planned out his moves and did everything he could to uphold the constitution. He never backed down from his confrontations with Scott and his boldness is ultimately what got him to the right place at the right time. I also liked Lyman’s other advisor Raymond. That guy had a pretty dangerous job of heading to where they suspected the villain base was all on his own. Things definitely could have gotten very dicey for him there.
Finally we have Scott who made for a very solid main villain. His confrontation with Lyman is definitely one of the better scenes here. There’s a lot of good back and forth between them as they trade threats. Scott tries playing dumb for quite a while even when Lyman basically tells him that the jig’s up. Scott tries to stay tough til the end but once the heroes get the smoking gun it’s all over. He’ll have to try and win legally now and while he was confident in his chances at the start, he didn’t seem so by the end. Particularly by resigning he may not even be eligible in 4 years although I’m not sure exactly how that would work out. It’s possible he could still try but he would likely have far less supporters now.
Overall, Seven Days in May is definitely a very solid political thriller. The writing is excellent and the same is true of the pacing. This is a movie that really had no weaknesses and all of the characters are written realistically to make for better interactions. As mentioned, I think we could have done without the romance plot though. It didn’t really add to anything but it’s not enough to hurt the score either. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to watch a film with a pretty engaging plot.