13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which is based on the Mitchell Zuckoff’s book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, follows the tragic death of American Ambassador, Chris Stevens. Stevens was killed on September 11, 2012, during an attack at the United States Consulate in Benghazi, and now a security team made up of men from different military branches have to defend their base and try to piece together how this was allowed to happened.
It is genuinely hard to critique a film like 13 Hours. No matter how bad or good it may be, at the back of your mind sits the acknowledgment that the events that are depicted on screen have actually occurred. The objectives of war films like 13 Hours and recently Lone Survivor and American Sniper are to remind us that these are the true stories of brave men and women fighting for our country. And in the last 15 minutes of 13 Hours, the movie hits its goal in stride as it bridges the pain and emotions felt by the characters to their real life counterparts. This is when the movie is at its most honest and impactful. After watching nonstop combat for mostly the entire duration of the film, and seeing the pictures of the very men who the characters are based on, the movie stops being an action spectacle and briefly becomes a sincere tribute to those men depicted in the film. Unfortunately, these emotions are not always present.
13 Hours is basically your middle of the road action war film that focuses more on its combat and action sequences than actually focusing on the story or the characters. Director Michael Bay- who has long been guilty of this type of filmmaking- uses all of his trademarks that have been a part of his films. There are multiple big explosions, frantic editing, tight close-ups, and long brooding tracking shots that lay out the landscape. However, there is no urgency or a cohesive flow. The film has a video-game like vibe to it as the only scenes that are given the most time and commitment are the chaotic gunfire sequences. By having the whole movie be nonstop action, the experience becomes numbing, and with only a few overly sentimental flashbacks and quiet family moments, the characters and their experiences are not memorable. However, the actors do a fine job in their parts. Most notably, John Krasinski gives a heartfelt performance, and Pablo Schreiber steals the scenes he appears in. Regardless, we are never really given the opportunity to sympathize and feel for the characters.
The biggest reason why this film fails is that it lacks vital information and avoids its responsibility in telling an intellectual, compelling film. Screenwriter Hogan omits any political commentary about the events that took place in Benghazi and its aftermath. While we may never know what truly happened there and stateside, this was an opportunity to make an interesting film about this tragic event. A film that is dealing with this type of issue deserves that much. It had the potential to be a satisfying movie; instead, it turned out to be a film with a few good action sequences and not much else.
The cast includes: John Krasinski (Promise Land), James Badge Dale (The Walk), Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is the New Black), David Denman (The Office), and Dominic Fumusa (Focus). It was written by Chuck Hogan (The Strain) and directed by Michael Bay (Transformers: Age of Extinction).
-By Louie Coruzzolo
In case you missed it, here is our video review from this week: