13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016) – Should I Watch It?

Intro to… 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Please Mr Bay, please let this not be another CGI-fest or love story.

The Plot
Former Navy SEAL Jack Da Silva (John Krasinski) joins the Global Response Staff (GSR), a group of private military contractors that provide security for a “secret” CIA outpost in Benghazi, to earn some hard needed money for his family. Upon arrival his friend and fellow team member Tyrone Woods (James Badge Dale) picks him up, and introduces him to the rest of the squad.

Time skip to 11 September 2012, the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 New York attacks, and an unsettling tension hangs around Benghazi. That very night an American building housing US Ambassador Christopher Stevens (Matt Letscher) gets attacked. Against orders the GSR heads out to protect their fellow Americans.

Should I Watch It?
So far Michael Bay has led an interesting career as a director. He is mostly known for his liberal use of explosions, fast-paced cutting, and his major commercial success with the Transformers movies. He is not the first person that comes to mind for directing a war story based on true events, especially not after demeaning the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to a third-rate love triangle. But someone in Hollywood decided to give him another shot.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is based on the true story of six members of the GRS, a heavily trained security team, that fought to defend an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, from several waves of terrorists attacks back in 2012. I, fortunately, was not in Benghazi when this happened, so I will refrain from discussing how much of this movie is fact, and how much of it is romanticised fiction, but will, instead, treat this as any other movie.

The first two-thirds of the movie felt a bit reminiscent of last year’s Sicario. And even though I did not recommend that movie, these are words of praise. There are long periods of tension throughout the movie. The stakes are high, and you quickly get invested into the story. In my opinion, 13 Hours is better at maintaining tension, but the ultimate pay off does not even compare to Sicario’s.

The final third is a succession of battles. The majority of this is also very well done, but there are some stylistic choices that temporarily ruin the flow of the movie. At one point, for instance, a mortar grenade gets fired towards the compound, and, for some reason, the touchdown and explosion of the grenade gets filmed in slow motion – it is very similar to the huge battleship explosion in Pearl Harbor, only not as cool.

Everyone of the GRS team looks like a Canadian lumberjack. They are all buffed up bearded men. During quieter scenes this is no problem. They sort of look alike, but not to the point they become interchangeable. The same thing cannot be said during the action scenes. At nearly every action scene the viewer gets tasked to figure out whom it is about. And with a running time of nearly 2,5 hours, a lot of attention is demanded from the audience. This makes 13 Hours not really suited for a casual watch.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is an exciting movie. It reminds us that Bay has made his fair share of decent films as well, and that there is more to him than just making dumb big-budget CGI-filled action flicks. Having said that, this movie is part action and part drama, and the difference of cleverness in displaying these different genres is very apparent; the action is much better executed than the drama. Still, it is definitely worth a watch – I recommend this movie.

Yes, watch it.

Hi guys, I hope you enjoyed reading this review. If you have any comments or suggestions on what I should watch next let me know in the comment section below.


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2 responses to “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016) – Should I Watch It?”

  1. intrepidmuses says :

    I am glad to hear that it turned out to be a good movie. I was worried that Bay’s style would overshadow the subject matter of the film.

    Liked by 1 person

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