13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a 2016 film directed and co-produced by Michael Bay (Transformers), written by Chuck Hogan (The Strain, The Town), based on a 2014 book by Mitchell Zuckoff, called 13 Hours.
If you like gritty military action, this is the film for you.
In 2012, the threat level in Benghazi, Libya was deemed “critical”. At an unofficial CIA base, a group of ex-military contractors are providing security. In the aftermath of Gaddafi’s downfall a power vacuum existed in a volatile climate. Then a dimwit US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, decides to visit the area, staying in a compound near a covert CIA base. But this compound is not designed as securely as the CIA base. Then on the night of 11 September, 2012, the Ambassador’s compound is attacked by waves of armed locals.
The only help available to protect the U.S. compounds are six CIA contractors, six men who had the courage to stand up and do what was right, despite being told it was not their job or fight.
The cast includes John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Max Martini, David Costabile, David Giuntoli (Grimm) and so many more.
When I started watching this film, I was sucked in almost immediately by the atmosphere and tone of the first act as they set up the characters, their lives, their professional scenario, the setting in Benghazi and more.
John Krasinski (The Office) gives one hell of a military character portrayal we never saw coming. But after seeing him play the battle-rugged Jack Silva, I think I am looking forward to his role as Jack Ryan in the upcoming TV series, Jack Ryan.
I always love Max Martini in any role he plays, but admittedly he gets typecast, but that’s OK by me.
And I have to say, another typecast actor, David Costabile, plays the politically correct oriented boss, playing the role perfectly, to a very high level of annoyance.
To be honest, this film sucked me in. It does have a slow start, but knowing what this film is about, it’s an acceptable pacing.
As the scenarios evolved, watching how the soldiers were restricted from specific actions due to their situation, then being forced to respond to aggressive actions only… the enemy has to shoot first… it was horrifying to watch. To see how they were not getting any help because of political restrictions, then asset shortages, was again, a mortifying development to watch.
The battles were classic Michael Bay. He loves showing off military talent and does it well here. You find yourself rooting for every kill our heroes made. There’s one character whose rifle makes muffled whoosh sounds with each shot, and despite being under fire, he makes these calm, solid, one shot kills and is fun to watch the bad guys drop.
There’s the classic sardonic, tough guy humor here and there, but not overdone. Just a lot of solid, practical survival skills as our heroes hunker down and do their best to defend their bases.
The gore is mostly minimal, but there are a few injuries that will push you over the limit, if you have a low tolerance for gross injuries.
There were a few scenes that confounded me too, where the editing got a bit confounded but it’s minor. We’ve seen it in a Transformers film here and there, where night becomes day, then back to night. Meh… who cares, I was having fun watching the story.
Overall, despite the established critics score over on Rotten Tomatoes being at 50%, fans have given it an 83% and over on IMDb, fans gave it a 7.3/10 score. It’s funny how the world of professional critics seem to love to bash on Michael Bay, but fans continue to show how disconnected they are from that side of the film industry.
And this time around, I am siding with the fans.
This was a great, intense film experience that drove home some of the horrors of politically correct situations in hostile territories.
I would have been happy to have dropped the bucks to see this in the theaters but alas, I missed it, I still think any bucks spent on this film, whether it be via rental fees, your prime fees or if you collect Michael Bay films, you can’t go wrong with the expenditure.
On my popcorn film review score, I’d give this an 8, easy.