13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

"Weak"

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Review


Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this retelling of the notorious attack on an American compound in Libya on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2012. As always, Bay stages the action on a big scale in a way that looks amazing, but he neglects both the story and the characters. As a result, the film feels epic and beefy, but is impossible to engage with.

It opens as a team of hired soldiers assembles at a secret CIA base in Benghazi. Jack (John Krasinski) is the newest arrival, joining his old pal Rone (James Badge Dale) and four more tough guys (Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa and Max Martini). Meanwhile just up the road, the American Ambassador (Matt Letscher) is staying in a rather unsecure compound with not quite enough security, despite stern warnings from Washington that trouble is brewing. Sure enough, as night falls a local jihadist militia launches a violent, fiery assault. The CIA base chief (David Costabile) tells his men not to join the fight, but of course they can't resist the chance to charge in and save the day.

Over a long and bludgeoning two and a half hours, Bay carefully recreates this long, vicious night of fighting, as the situation continually twists out of control. The best thing about the film is the way it depicts how difficult it was to know which locals were on which side, but even this is simplified in Chuck Hogan's script. Everyone on-screen is interchangeable as either a bewildered nerd or a fierce warrior, and the only one in between is by far the film's strongest character: Peyman Moaadi's translator, who gets pushed right into the middle of the nightmare. In the few quiet moments, there are clumsy attempts to give these manly men some back-story, but it's the same for everyone: former black ops soldier with a wife and kids back home.

Bay shamelessly uses these distant relatives to ramp up some emotional stakes, but since it's impossible to tell which shouty-beardy man is whom, and since these family ties are such cliches, it never works. And the film is directed without any sense of perspective, spinning around between all of the sides as if it was possible to tell them apart. The only sensible response for an audience is to sit back and watch the carnage, admire the scale of the production and the size of the explosions. Narrow-minded viewers who want their unfounded opinions ratified will read what they want into it. Everyone else will just get a headache.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi



13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 144 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th January 2016

Box Office USA: $16.2M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, 3 Arts Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Fresh: 66 Rotten: 46

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Tanto, as Jack, as Boon, as Glen 'Bub' Doherty, as Oz, as Rone, as The Chief, Elektra Anastasi as CIA Agent, Alexia Barlier as Sona Jillani, Liisa Evastina as Actress, Dominic Fumusa as Tig, Demetrius Grosse as DS Agent Dave Ubben, Steffi Thake as Chief's Assistant, Kerim Troeller as Viper, Kenny Sheard as Delta 1

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