Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Chuck Hogan
Cast: James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, Max Martini, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Alexia Barlier, Peyman Moaadi, David Giuntoli, Demetrius Grosse, Toby Stephens, Matt Letscher, and David Costabile
Synopsis: An American Ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
Based on the book my Mitchell Zuckoff and inspired by the real life events that happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi focuses more on the action and soldiers than it does with the geopolitical issue. Being directed by Michael Bay, you can only assume what you’re walking into action-wise, but despite my dislike for Bay and his recent movies, this is better than I had thought it would be. But if you’re looking for a more political aspect while watching, you’ll be left out in the cold.
13 Hours follows a team of former Special Forces ops who have turned into security contractors to watch over secret CIA installations in Benghazi. The team is lead by Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods (Dale) who brings in an old friend in Jack Silva (Krasinski). When Silva arrives at the CIA outpost he meets the rest of the team in Kris ‘Tanto’ (Schreiber), John ‘Tig’ Tiegen (Fumusa), Dave ‘Boon’ Benton (Denman), and Mark ‘Oz’ Geist (Martini). We follow the team as they help out with some assignments that include helping/protecting Sona Jillani (Barlier) make a deal with a native, and helping more contractors in Dave Ubben (Grosse) and Scott Wickland (Giuntoll) help protect U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens (Letscher).
As we now know, something terrible happens and during the anniversary of September 11, Anti-American Libyans attack the CIA outposts. This leads our heroes to pick up their weapons and go against orders by the station chief, Bob (Costabile) to fight. What follows is the team protecting everyone in the station from a siege where they can’t tell who is there to help or kill them.
Again, it’s directed by Michael Bay, so you know what to expect when you watching the action. I’m not saying the action is bad either. It’s actual nice to see a action film with Bay’s name on it that doesn’t include CGI robots hitting each other. Not saying the action is always easy to follow. It’s sometimes hard to make out who are heroes are from time to time, but if you want action, there is plenty of it in 13 Hours, and thankfully the majority of it is worthwhile.
That being said, the action can’t hold a whole movie together and 13 Hours would have feel shorter if it weren’t for the some of the cast. Before I get to them, I do want to mention that despite the little nuggets that every character gets, it isn’t until around the end of the movie that we finally start to get to really know them. Every character has their own traits and nuances, but again, it isn’t until around the end of the movie that we finally get to know them and what makes them tick a little more. Is it enough to root for them because they are the heroes of the movie? Take away the fact that all these people are based on real people that went through this terrible situation and event, but sometimes that isn’t enough, and other real life war events like this have done better at making us care about the character way before the end of the movie. That isn’t a knock on the real people that went through this, some of them even helped the crew to make the events more real, but I want to know more about a character and feel more for them, especially if there is a chance we may not see them make it until the end.
Now thankfully, the cast do great with what they have. John Krasinski, who got really ripped for the role, is one of the most well-rounded characters, since he is the lead along with James Badge Dale’s ‘Rone.’ I’m glad to see Dale get a lead role because I think he’s one of the best underappreciated and unknown actors around. Pablo Schreiber’s ‘Tanto’ is the comic relief-type character, Dominic Fumusa’s ‘Tig,’ David Denman’s ‘Boon’ and Max Martini’s ‘Oz’ have their moments to shine, but are more background characters. David Costabile’s Station Chief Bob is the no-nonsense and dickish character that doesn’t think too highly of the group until they are his only hope to survive.
Again, if you’re looking for a geopolitical movie that delves deeper into what happen in Benghazi, this isn’t a movie for you. This is an action movie about the guys on the ground that did everything they could and fought off everyone that came at them, and the people they protected that night. You do feel for the characters during this, despite what I said earlier, but not as much as we could if we got to know them more at the beginning of middle of the film. The film does touch on politics a bit when Bob and the people inside the compound try to get help, but that’s about it.
All in all, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is much more of an action movie than it is a drama or even an action movie with political undertones. Instead Michael Bay decides to focus on the men that put their lives on the line and lets us see what they went through to survive. With solid leads in James Badge Dale and John Krasinski and some worthwhile action, 13 Hours is worth the watch.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
3.5 out of 5