13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi rates perhaps as director Michael Bay’s most accomplished film to date, a timely and pulse-pounding true story of the terrorist attack on an American diplomatic outpost and a CIA Annex in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. Paramount is releasing the film in the exact same corridor that brought success in the last couple of years to two other, somewhat similar movies American Sniper and Lone Survivor, and like the latter film in particular, Bay has crafted a patriotic, riveting war movie full of intense action that also thankfully puts a human face on exactly what happened in Benghazi.
This film, centering around a group of six retired Navy Seals and Marines now in their 30’s and 40’s, is basically a movie that puts its emphasis on the brave men who fought this battle rather than the ensuing political storm it is still causing as we enter this Presidential election year. Hillary Clinton and President Obama (not even mentioned) are not the focus here as in the political debate about what was done – or not done- in this incident. Rather, it is these six men who form a unit called Group Global Response or GGR there, to protect and provide security for whatever problems might come up. When U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens (Matt Letscher) goes out to visit the vulnerable outpost, a terrorist attack soon follows and he is killed, a victim of smoke inhalation, along with three others. With no American military in sight, the GGR tries to ride to the rescue but are thwarted by a superior named Bob ( David Costabile) and lose crucial time. Against his orders they go anyway. When they get there the place is in flames and the CIA Annex is likely the next target. What ensues is a very violent war film full of shooting and explosions, exactly the kind of thing we have come to expect from Bay films, but here in the context of a true story seems all too real, putting the audience right in the center of the action.
In many ways this movie, which really only wants to focus on the warrior, not the war, is like many others, but because it is likely to be used as a political football (and already has been on Fox News) the real point of it could be sadly lost. I hope it isn’t because seeing this whole thing from the POV of the men who were on the front lines, much like The Alamo in some ways (there’s even a reference to that), is compelling moviemaking and a real step forward into something a little more important than another Transformers movie for Bay.
The acting across the board is excellent with standouts being John Krasinski as a former Navy Seal who must abandon his family just one more time to take on an assignment he thought would be brief and uneventful. Also memorable is James Badge Dale as Rone, a man who risks it all.
There can be no question, as I say in my video review (just click the link above to watch) , that Bay really knows how to deliver this kind of action and it is all exceptionally well-shot and edited. It should be no surprise the director of photography is Oscar winner Dion Beebe. The music by Lorne Balfe is also very fine and really adds an emotional layer to the proceedings. The screenplay is by Chuck Hogan from the book, 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff and members of the Annex Security Team. If it sometimes drifts into cliches of these kinds of movies, it is overall nicely crafted. The rest of the cast includes Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman and Dominic Fumusa. Bay and Erwin Stoff are the producers.
Do you plan to see 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi? Let us know what you think.