Classic Review: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” which originally appeared here.

On the evening of the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a group of Islamic militants attacked the American diplomatic compound and the nearby CIA “Annex” building in Benghazi, Libya. A small team of six CIA security contractors, Jack Silva (John Krasinski), Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods (James Badge Dale), Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto (Pablo Schreiber), Dave ‘Boon’ Benton (David Denman), John ‘Tig” Tiegan (Dominic Fumusa), and Mark ‘Oz’ Geist (Max Martini), who served with the Navy SEALS, Marine Force Recon and Army Special Forces undertake a desperate defense of the American Ambassador, Chris Stevens (Matt Letscher), and his staff within the diplomatic compound.

I have to say that I didn’t know too much about the whole Benghazi thing after it happened a few years ago other than all the political controversy surrounding it. I will also say that after seeing this film, I don’t really know much more about it. The only thing I really learned about was the involvement of the six contractors (Kransinski, Dale, Schreiber, Denman, Fumusa, and Martini). On the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, a group of armed militants attacked a temporary American diplomatic compound and a nearby CIA base which the six contractors defended. You may not believe this but this film’s director was the same one who directed all those great Transformers films, Michael Bay. I kind of knew this beforehand but I chose to see it partly because I was curious about how he’d handle this subject matter. I was pleasantly surprised by this film as it is definitely a departure from Bay’s past films. While I found the Transformers films to be plot-less explosion porn, this one actually has semi-interesting characters and a story. Be that as it may, there are still problems here. While the film does a decent job at putting you in the mood, I found that the film may have overdone it a few times, primarily via the overuse of mood music. I could already figure out what was happening so I didn’t need the music to tell me. Like them or not, I’ve always found Michael Bay films to have a lot of action and this one is no different. But unlike past films, the action is less of a focal point or less gratuitous and more of a means to an end. The action in this film was well done for the most part but I would have liked to been more in the action as most of it was people getting shot from a rooftop. But what I do appreciate is that it went straight into the action as it began less than a quarter into the film. In order to get to the action quicker, the film had to sacrifice a little context as it failed to provide much explanation as to why all of this happened. I suppose the why isn’t as important as film is the story of the six men and I found it did well with that. The film offered a bevy of interesting characters, most notably Silva (Krasinski) and Woods (Dale) as they received primary focus. They were both good and I found their performances to be engaging but I would have liked some more time with the other characters. Also the film is a little too long at almost 2.5 hours which meant some unnecessary dialogue and set-up. Overall, this a good war movie, led by a decent story and solid performances.

Score: 8/10

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