13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Action

'13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi' Film Review: Michael Bay answers the call of duty

January 15, 2016Ben MK

Whether it's Transformers or Bad Boys, a Michael Bay film is typically a bombastic affair full of action, humor, and, of course, lots and lots of explosions. For his latest movie, however, Bay is dialing back the comedy to tell the dramatic true story of a terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, one that claimed the lives of four Americans, including that of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.

Of course, everyone is familiar with the events of September 11, 2001. However, not everyone may know about what happened in Benghazi, exactly 11 years to the day. To be fair, though, countless news articles have been written about it in the 3 or so years since, analyzing everything from the timeline of the attack to whether the Obama administration might be to blame for mishandling the whole situation. But when you get right down to it, the final word on what really took place has to belong to the six-man CIA security team who disobeyed direct orders to mount a daring rescue.

Known as the Annex Security Team, the book five of them co-authored with writer Mitchell Zuckoff — titled "13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi" — has been fueling the political flames surrounding the attack since it was published in 2014. Now it serves as the basis for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which takes the facts presented on paper and extrapolates them into a non-stop action epic, casting John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa and Max Martini as its heroes.

Scripted by novelist-turned-screenwriter Chuck Hogan, the film doesn't waste time getting going, kicking off with a few bullet points about Libya, and how the 2011 defeat and demise of dictator Muammar Gaddafi plunged the nation into chaos, turning it into one of the most dangerous places on the planet. From there the narrative essentially steers clear of any mention of politics, giving viewers a quick round of character introductions before paving the way for the film's centerpiece, a brutally violent and explosively charged Assault on Precinct 13 style battle that occupies the majority of its running time.

In between there are a few character moments, meant to give audiences a better perspective on the former Navy SEALS, Marines and Army Rangers at the center of the story: Jack Silva (Krasinski), Tyrone Woods (Dale), Kris Paronto (Schrieber), Dave Benton (Denman), John Tiegen (Fumusa) and Mark Geist (Martini). However, character moments have never been a strong suit of Bay's movies, and this isn't going to be the film that changes that. On the other hand, what Bay's movies do excel at are flagrant displays of male bravado, and there's more than enough of that here to go around.

13 Hours follows in the footsteps of movies like Zero Dark Thirty, Lone Survivor and American Sniper. However, if you're expecting the film to shed some light on the real-life events that inspired it, don't hold your breath. Viewed purely from an entertainment standpoint, though, the movie is as visceral and as gritty as a war drama can get, with more automatic gunfire, earth-shaking explosions and full metal Bay-isms than all of the aforementioned films rolled into one. The end result will have action junkies rejoicing, but for everyone else, 13 Hours proves as exhausting as it is exhilarating.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi releases January 15th, 2016 from Paramount Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong combat violence throughout, bloody images, and language. Its runtime is 2 Hrs. 24 Mins.

You May Also Like