13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a biopic war drama-thriller directed by Michael Bay. Benghazi, 2012, has become one of the most unsafe and unstable places in the world. Diplomats from many countries have pulled out in fear of possible attacks by militants. The US keeps their diplomatic compound open as it’s not an official consulate. Based on the book by the same name it follows a security team stationed at a nearby CIA outpost. A US Ambassador is caught making a visit and its up to that security team to protect the American diplomatic compound from the militants.
Anytime Michael Bay is mentioned, I worry for a movie. This being a non-Transformers movie it had a glimmer of hope that it would resemble some of Bay’s earlier successes like The Rock or Bad Boys. I was surprised to see 13 Hours light on Bay-isms. The explosions and special effects were toned down and focused more on creating a realistic war film. 13 Hours focuses more on what happened in the incident rather than the politics involved. That was a smart choice as it suits Michael Bay’s wheelhouse to focus on the action. The film could have done a better job developing the characters, but it did enough to get a sense of who they were. They were soldiers who were great at what they do, being put in a tough situation and wanted to return safely to their families. The acting was good, and it was nice to see John Krasinski in a serious role. There were some scenes that could have been cut down or cut completely. Another problem was that part of the movie felt hard to follow as it cut back and forth. I understand the wanting to demonstrate that war can be shocking and disorienting. At the same time, it would take me out of the film when I’m trying to figure out what just happened and where. The overall pacing was great. I like the slower build up then leading to a faster pace situation finally complete chaos.
13 Hours had a weak story and didn’t have enough meat to the film. It was a light version of what took place. That suited Michael Bay to create and deliver a straight forward war drama-thriller film. If you can overlook that 13 Hours doesn’t explore much on the incident that occurred, then you will find the film entertaining.
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 2 hr 24 min
Director: Michael Bay
Screenplay: Chuck Hogan
Cast: James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber and Toby Stephens
Producers: Michael Bay, Den Nichols and Erwin Stoff
Music: Lorne Balfe
Cinematography: Dion Beebe