Michael Bay. The mention of him tends to bring on involuntary eye rolls and often some dry heaving. His name is little more than a hiss and a byword. Yet, in between his commonplace explosion-stravaganzas, he is able to create a movie that doesn’t carry with it immediate groans.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is that movie. It’s his one movie every decade that stands above the rest and shows an impressive level of quality. In my humble opinion, he’s only done this with The Rock and The Island. (To a fun, lesser extent with Bad Boys as well.)
The plot follows the true story of the tragedy in Benghazi in September 2012. A small group of contracted former military men regularly handle dangerous jobs in the region. Jack Silva (John Krasinski) has recently joined this group that runs under the command of Tyrone Woods (James Badge Dale). Daily life seems to be dangerous enough for these men and the people they protect, but things take an awful turn as the poorly defended embassy is attacked. The only chance for rescue of those being attacked is this group of brave men.
A major worry I had about Michael Bay taking on another war movie is that he’d glorify it and make gunplay and death seem attractive. This was especially worrisome because of the controversial nature of what happened in Libya that day.
However, Bay treats the situation as exhausting, ugly and uncertain, just as it should be. That’s not to say he doesn’t overuse lens flares or silly establishing shots. He doesn’t completely leave his style aside. Thankfully, he leaves out awkward dialogue and not-so-subtle sexism.
I would honestly think 13 Hours would be Michael Bay’s change for the better. Unfortunately, his next movie is Transformers 5.
This is the role that John Krasinski needs. He’s a classic staple on the small screen, but has never been able to find scripts that can translate success to the silver screen. His role as Silva, provides enough weight and range of emotion, that you want to see more from Krasinski. Another success of 13 Hours is the overall use of the ensemble. Each ranger is important. Character development may not be the key in this movie. It does only show a few days, after all. What makes it work is each character has a purpose. It feels as if you’re watching the relationship of a true brotherhood.
Walking into 13 Hours, I intended to leave any politics aside. But I couldn’t leave my distaste for the director aside and it still managed to impress me. It’s a bit grim and heavy to want to revisit, but if you’re a fan of movies in the vein of Lone Survivor and Black Hawk Down, 13 Hours will be right up your alley. B