Friday, January 22, 2016

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - Review

    When thinking of directors with enough talent to tell the story of the Benghazi attack in 2012, Michael Bay is certainly not the first name that jumps out. The director of such masterpieces as Pearl Harbor and all four Transformers movies (that was sarcastic for the record), Bay is not the go to when telling such a recent and grueling true story. But when it boils down to it, Bay crafts a pretty decent film and placing it among one of his personal bests.
   The story follows the struggle of six men of the Annex Security Team, who were brave enough to defend the U.S. consulate in Benghazi despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered Islamic militants. The 13 hours from the start of the attack to the end are a never-ending duel between the American soldiers and the evils lurking in the shadow of night.
   It’s clear from the start that the believability of the actors as soldiers and warriors is extremely important. And every role down the line completely nails this necessary aspect. Two performances in particular stand out above the rest in John Krasinski and James Badge Dale.
   Krasinski is absolutely fantastic and proves that he deserves more attention in Hollywood. His role as the veteran soldier is meaty enough for the actor to show off his range of emotions as well as his capabilities in the action department. On the other hand is James Badge Dale. The role of leader ultimately falls on his shoulders and he plays it so well. The screen presence he possesses throughout the film provides a central anchor point for the entire crew.
   Of course being a Michael Bay film, there are certain Bay-isms one comes to expect. While he may have crafted a respectable film and gotten great performances, he still manages to throw in an absurd amount of explosions (or fireworks) and include so many camera angles that have become associated with his movies. But he must be commended for leaving the politics out of the film entirely, instead letting the story focus on the worst night for these men.
   It’s hard to judge anything regarding story when something is based in real life. While the story itself may be true, the execution can be criticized. The runtime is way too long thus creating pacing issues throughout. The first hour or so drags through a lot of buildup before the final action begins and then it’s relentless until the end. It’s not awful once the battle begins to ramp up, but until then the story moves extremely slow.

   Overall, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a surprisingly good movie. Mind you it isn’t great but the amount of respect and time that Bay appears to have taken with this story has to be complimented. The performances are solid and the story certainly deserves to be told. There are some pacing issues, the runtime is too long, and Bay still throws in some of his old favorites, but there is enough good to outweigh the bad in this case. (6.5/10)



So what did you think of 13 Hours? Have you seen it and how does it rank among the rest of Bay's films? Share, comment below, and as always return back to I Am Sam for weekly reviews.