13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI
Directed by Michael Bay
Starring John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, James Badge Dale
What sounds like the perfect title to one of those DVDs you find in the $5 bin at Walmart, Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi plays like an important message film presented in the style of an action film. While there may be plenty to say about the happenings behind the Benghazi situation, what Bay intends as politico commentary,doesn't really say much at all. That isn't to say it isn't still a thrill ride.
With a threat level set at critical, the US presence in Libya was not only dangerous, but highly classified. Under the shroud of protection by local security forces, and heightened by contracted American security teams, the US bases in Benghazi were expected to be safe, even in the event of a high level visitor. In this case, as an American ambassador takes up residence in one location, a siege of warlike proportions advances, leaving the security teams at the mercy of their own consciences and the political protocol (or lack thereof). Without proper permission, these "secret soldiers" choose to not back down and, ultimately, become heroes without a name.
The true story of the Benghazi attacks,and the political firestorm these attacks have become, are harrowing and offer no real silver lining. In this depiction, Bay sets out to tell the story,blemishes and all, and mostly succeeds. Coming in with a career built on explosions and box office uncertainty (hello Battleship), making more films like 13 Hours will do Bay some industry good.
Shot in the same vein as Black Hawk Down and countless other modern war films that followed, 13 Hours wants to be just as important or impressive. It does benefit from eye-opening sequences and a number of edge-of-your-seat moments, but it falters when it tries too hard to be sentimental. It's message becomes muddled at these points and it becomes more pandering to the situation that reverent to those who lost their lives.
Never as impacting as it thinks it is, overall 13 Hours is an overlong opus to a story that deserves to be told. Packed with great performances, especially that of John Krasinski, giving a much-deserved leading man turn with dedicated fierceness, 13 Hours isn't necessarily a great masterpiece, but it isn't all terrible. In fact, it makes perfect sense for it to come out at a time like this. There's no way it'll hit the same box office numbers or esteem as American Sniper or Lone Survivor, but it will keep us satisfied until the next, brilliant war piece is created.
Runtime: 2h 24 min