13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016) Review
13 Hours is arguably the best Michael Bay film since The Rock with blistering action scenes and a likable cast. Watch a on a big screen with the sound up loud for maximum effect.
Plot: On Sept. 11, 2012, Islamic militants attack the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith, an officer for the Foreign Service. Stationed less than one mile away are members (James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini) of the Annex Security Team, former soldiers assigned to protect operatives and diplomats in the city. As the assault rages on, the six men engage the combatants in a fierce firefight to save the lives of the remaining Americans.
Review: I missed this movie in the theatre which I now regret as I think on a big screen it would be truly spectacular but it’s now out on Blu-ray so I just blind bought it.
People love to dump on on Michael Bay (mostly due to the Transformers movies) but I’ve always given him a pass because a) he made The Rock and b) he has a fantastic visual style. The look of 13 Hours is pretty jaw dropping with fantastic cinematography and lighting. As a lot of the action takes place at night I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see what was going on but that didn’t even happen once.
We get some amazing aerial shots from drones which give the action a bigger scale; I almost feel crass talking about the action in a story where real people died but I’m just judging this as a movie rather than a documentary. The film doesn’t delve into the controversy or politics which was wise as Bay knows action and sticks to what he does best: blowing shit up in spectacular fashion.
At a (rather long) 2 hours and 24 minutes the story engages from the start and has an air of tension and potential threat every second. There isn’t anything remotely subtle about it but it’s a Michael Bay film so you kinda know what you’re going to get: slow motion, silhouettes in front of sunsets and military porn. This is hard R too with limbs hanging off and I do believe those were squibs as well so no shitty CG blood.
There probably could have been a few minutes cut just because I prefer movies under 2 hours long but the pacing never lagged.
The cast did well and John Krasinski was surprisingly effective as the lead Jack but I also liked James Badge Dale who felt believable as his brother in arms Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods.
The tone is spot on and I liked how there wasn’t the usual juvenile humour that there had been in Bay’s recent movies so it would be nice to think he’s moving on from that kind of… oh wait, he’s working on Transformers 5…
Lorne Balfe’s score helps ratchet up the tension during the action scenes and although there isn’t a theme tune and I wouldn’t listen to it on its own, it works well in the movie.
Overall, 13 Hours is arguably the best Michael Bay film since The Rock with blistering action scenes and a likable cast. Watch a on a big screen with the sound up loud for maximum effect.