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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi Review


While these days he is to many people ‘the Transformers guy’ (or ‘the guy who ruined Transformers’ to the hardcore fans’), well before he was turning toys into movies (and let’s admit it, relying far too heavily on CGI) Michael Bay was the guy you turned to for over the top, explosion happy action movies. And he delivered exactly what you were looking for every time. Much like he proved with Pain & Gain, taking Bay away from giant robots who turn into vehicles sees the old him shine through, and while 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi isn’t entirely perfect, it does see the director doing what he does best.

Trying his hand at real life military events after not entirely nailing it with Pearl Harbor, Bay brings to the screen the events of September 11th 2012, when an American embassy in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by militants born from the chaos that followed the death of the country’s leader and despot, Mummer Gaddafi. These events are still something of a political hotbed, and to its credit, 13 Hours does its best to keep things even, instead focusing on the men on the ground, a six man team of private military contractors dubbed G.R.S., who stepped up when everything went to hell.

At its heart, this is a tale of heroism in the face overwhelming odds, and on the action front, Bay treats us to an intense ride from ride from start to finish. The Master of Mayhem is uncharacteristically restrained here, the more juvenile flourishes he’s known for being entirely absent. He takes his time setting all the pieces on the chess board, letting us know the stakes before letting the balls to the wall second act burst out the gate. John Krasinski and James Badge Dale are the faces of G.R.S. and they play the highly trained action heroes perfectly, even if their portrayal as loving family men is a bit too heavy handed. On top of that, they come off as a bit too perfect, spotting the potential danger of an attack while the C.I.A. agents they are hired to protect brush them off and knowing exactly what to do once the shit does hit the fan. This may be entirely accurate to men in real life, but for a movie it pants them as infallible action men, robbing proceedings of some of its danger.

Once all the formalities are dealt with, 13 Hours kicks into high gear with the initial attack on the embassy bringing with bucket loads of tension, but at the same time showcasing Bay’s biggest faults. The ensuing chaos is a nightmare to get a handle on, with characters getting lost in all the gunfire and explosions. But once the attackers fall back to plan their retaliation and the G.R.S settle into their own personal Alamo, this movie becomes an absolutely engrossing watch. Bay is firmly in Black Hawk Down territory and doesn’t flinch from presenting the full horrors of war for everyone to see. Trying as it does to come down in the middle of an political debate, the story is main casualty here. It doesn’t entirely fall apart, but it doesn’t really give us a clear enemy. Thankfully, the Libyan militants aren’t painted as monsters (as they would have been only two decades ago), but while they have clear motivation, they come across as faceless drones to fall to the bullets of our heroes.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is the most mature we’ve see the director in recent years and it suits him, as he wrings the maximum amount of tension from proceedings. Sure, another director could have fully realised the story potential of this particular event, but if you’re looking for a competent slice of the type of action only Michael Bay can deliver, this is the movie for you.


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The Movie Bit: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi Review
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