Movie Review: ’13 Hours’January 25, 2016 at 12:00 am | Posted in Movies, Reviews | Leave a comment
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a film I didn’t plan on seeing, but I’m glad I did. While there is a lot of deep undertones to the story and the political turmoil, 13 Hours doesn’t play out as a slap in the face to politics. Instead, it’s an intense war movie with likeable characters. It takes the time to develop the soldiers in the story, to allow viewers to bond with them, then it throws them into hell. Michael Bay might get a lot of flack for the Transformers franchise, but 13 Hours shows he’s a talented director who can do a compelling story and still has a couple surprises up his sleeve.
The movie focuses on the CIA contractors stationed at the secret CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. Along with the diplomatic outpost there where Ambassador Chris Stevens was staying, both locations come under attack and it turns into a gripping tale of rescue and survival. There are lots of humanizing elements that bring the CIA contractors to life. You get a chance to bond with them which makes it even more tense and painful when their lives are put on the line. The actors do a great job of slipping into their roles and their characters. There’s no wooden acting. Michael Bay also does a great job of transitioning to character moments, storybuiling moments as the tension ramps up, and all out action as the firefights break out. It keeps you locked into the film from beginning to end.
The action moments are worth pointing out as some great glimpses into modern combat. They capture the intensity of what a firefight must be like, the adrenaline rush of death rushing by in both directions, and the tenuous turmoil of walking that line of never coming home. I’d compare the movie to the likes of Black Hawk Down, but better. There are some great scenes in this movie, and there is more than one firefight as the bad guys come in escalating waves of violence. You can’t help but feel connected and invested in the soldiers and their fates.
Of course all of this comes with deeper questions. Was the situation mishandled? The movie touches on that, it presents instances where those in leadership didn’t make the right calls to save lives, but the movie doesn’t dwell on that. Rather than being heavy handed on blame, it invests in the characters and the intensity of the situation they have to go through. It really is a movie worth seeing, whether you’re into the politics or not.
As an action flick, 13 Hours ranks up there with some of the best modern war films. It has great characters, intense action and a compelling story. For those looking to better understand the situation in Benghazi, it offers that as well. Either way, it’s an entertaining film and I give it a five out of five metal bikinis.