REVIEW: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

Theatrical Release Poster – Paramount Pictures

The following is a review of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, a Michael Bay film.

Michael Bay gets a lot of hate from the online film community. A lot of people hate his films, and some of his films, namely the Transformers movie franchise, represents what many see as the worst aspects of film today. Michael Bay once said, that he makes movies for teenage boys, but, with 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, he has made a surprisingly mature film that I think is his best film since Armageddon, which I still really like.

Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is based on the 2012 Benghazi attack and Mitchell Zuckoff’s book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi. The film follows Jake Silva (played by John Krasinski), a military contractor for the Global Response Staff (GRS).

The men of the GRS are protecting a CIA outpost close to a diplomatic compound, when, suddenly, the compound is attacked by Islamist militants. Now, the CIA outpost and the military contractors have to find out how they are going to respond to the attack.

Michael Bay is all over this film. You know what kind of shots you are going to see. There are a lot of explosions, and, yes, there are slow-motion explosions as well.  You still have the patriotic focus, and some scenes that fetishize cars. But it is a much more restrained Michael Bay film, which is to say that it isn’t as over-the-top as some of his other films are.

The musical score is generic. The characters aren’t that different one another, and I didn’t think Bay, or the writers, did a good job of really setting these characters up. You have a lot of scenes where they are either goofing around or talking to their families, but not all of the scenes really work. I also thought that the film was a bit too long.

John Krasinski, who once auditioned to be Captain America (and is even called Captain America by a civilian in the film), is going to be a big star one day. I loved him in The Office, and I want him to succeed. But 13 Hours probably isn’t going to be the film that makes him a star. I liked his character in the film, but the action outshone the characters in this film.

That said, though, I thought the action was completely enthralling and captivating, and some of the drama worked for me as well. This film isn’t made to win awards. You don’t go into this film to see sharp dialogue and great characters. This is a war film focused on action, and if that is what you go into this film expecting, then I think you’re going to like it a lot.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi isn’t a ‘great film’, no matter how you look at it. It doesn’t stand out among other films like it. It is inferior to war films like Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor, and 13 Hours probably isn’t that historically accurate. But it is the best film Michael Bay has made since 1998’s Armageddon, and it is a solid film.

7 out of 10

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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