Sunday, March 20, 2016

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi

Year: 2016
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Max Martini, David Costabile, Peyman Moaadi

Plot: Based on a true story. On September 11, 2012, the residence of the US Ambassador in Benghazi, Libya is attacked by militants. Six private defense contractors working for the CIA went against orders to stand down in order to respond and save lives, and subsequently they defended the CIA outpost from the militants until reinforcements arrived.

Review: Believe it or not, it's nice to see a Michael Bay film that isn't over-the-top in terms of destruction. Not that I minded watching his Transformers films over the years, but it is good to see him do something on a smaller scale, and something less surreal.

13 Hours depicts the true story of how six men, former military officers now turned defense contractors for the CIA went against their boss' orders and chose to come to the aid of the US Ambassador whose home in Benghazi, Libya was being attacked by militants on the night of September 11, 2012. Their act subsequently put their CIA base at risk, and the men were forced to defend the base against waves of attacks by the militants until reinforcements arrive.

The one thing that never fails to impress me about Michael Bay is how he is able to get military advice and assistance to make his film look good. From the Transformers films to Pearl Harbor, he always depicts the American military forces in very good light, and I mean that in a positive way. Speaking of Bay, his usual Bay-hem style of action is still present here, but done on a lower level of chaos. In this sense it works quite well and a welcome change from what we've seen him do in the past. I also liked how Bay staged a handful of tense situations where either the men can't tell whether they're about to face hostiles approaching or not, or they are facing armed men who could shoot them at a drop of the dime. The opening sequence where two of the men face off against a group of angry armed Libyans blocking their path to their base is a perfect example of the latter.

The cast all perform well enough, and being only six men it's not hard to distinguish them from each other. The best of the lot are John Krasinski and James Badge Dale. Krasinski plays Jack Silva, the newest addition to the team while Dale plays team leader Tyrone Woods. Both men succeed in portraying men who are willing to risk their lives but at the end of the day they're just regular joes who want to go home to their families. David Costabile is also good as the CIA boss reluctant to send the men out, and Peyman Moaadi (A Separation) shines in his small role as a Libyan translator.

However the film suffers from being a bit too long. Some fifteen minutes or so could have been edited to tighten the pace. The camerawork during some of the firefights were also too shaky, and oftentimes I couldn't tell who was shooting at who.

Overall, 13 Hours is a solid action film, and while it isn't as memorable as Black Hawk Down or Lone Survivor, it does match those films in terms of intensity, and is worth checking out. (7/10)

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