13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

by | Jan 17, 2016 | 0 comments

A Pleasant Surprise from the Transformers Director

Well done Michael Bay, my respect for him as spiraled up to unimaginable heights. Bay is known for his explosion-filled franchise: Transformers; however, Paramount has finally decided to give the director the financing to do a movie to his own liking, and the American director has chosen a story on the 2012 Benghazi incident.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is the story of the attack on the American ambassador in Libya. The story has recently been brought up to light in current events with the big scandal of Hillary Clinton’s emails, but this film doesn’t go looking to point the finger at any specific person. It really just blames the inability of the government to react in a time of crisis, most of it fueled by the incessant amount of red tape. The movie follows the story of the team of soldiers that protected the CIA outpost in Benghazi. Our lead characters are Jack Silva (The Office’s John Krasinski) and Tyrone Woods (James Badge Dale), and we also have the wisecracking Kris Paronto (Pablo Schreiber), Dave Benton (another The Office alum David Denman), John Tiegen (Dominic Fumusa), and Mark Geist (Max Martini). The movie follows the attack on the diplomatic outpost, and how the group of soldiers repels attacks to the CIA base for 13 hours, despite their superiors telling them to wait.

What is most impressive about this film is the incredible effort that Bay goes into trying to have people take him seriously, and he almost achieves it. Certainly the first half of the film you could see him restraining and trying to hold back from any explosions, and this gave way to some of the most tension filled moments of the movie, even reminding me sometimes of Homeland. And certainly as the movie progressed into the action, it picked up the good adrenaline speed that Bay is known for; however, just like in his Transformers films, Bay cannot hold the pace of the action for too long. He tries to give us so breaks and pauses between each wave of attacks but it brings the film to a very awkward pace and it becomes incredibly repetitive, so that by the end you start looking down at your watch more than at the screen.

But it mustn’t be discouraging from attending this film, because Bay was really trying to push out of his mold, and certainly in many moments of the film he gives us very subtle political and philosophical messages. He gives us both sides of the war; we are shown the terrible and bloodthirsty Libyans, but we are also shown their other comrades who are eager to bring stability and simply watch a soccer game in peace. And Bay also looks at the good and bad of the Western side, specifically the terrible bureaucracy, but also the humanity and sacrifice of western soldiers, who give up their lives for a land and country they don’t know. It was incredibly inspiring to see these messages come from the director most known for his fighting robots.

As for the cast, I was very happy to see that the majority weren’t really Hollywood stars, they were lesser-known actors, but I think that because of that they try incredibly hard to shine in this film to the audience’s benefit. John Krasinski I think is the key actor here because he is able to give us the only real emotional anchor in the movie, his video chats to his family back home seem touching and credibly. However, I feel like there is another flaw here, while Krasinski certainly tries his best, and Bay really tries to humanize all of the characters, I never really ended up caring very much for them. I think that in the end the problem was that all the characters backstories and even appearances were so similar that they ended up just looking like the same action figure; and while I understand that these were all real people, there could have been some more effort in making each one distinctive.

In the end though I have to give kudos to Bay for surprising me so much. While the subtlety and restraining that make a good war movie isn’t held off in this one, it was a pleasant January surprise and I hope it marks a milestone in Bay’s directing career. 

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 74% 74%

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Historical Accuracy

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Action

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Tension

What movie best captured modern warfare? Let me know in the comments section.

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