Besides for a mouthful of a title, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is an unbelievable tale based on a true story; an all guns blazing, heart pounding 144 minutes of pure adrenaline. Just don’t expect anything more than that.
There are two ways you can view 13 Hours: A story that celebrates the bravery of six super soldiers and the under lying political blame that Americans pinned on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over the entire 2012 Benghazi ordeal, or a simple but insane story of six brave soldiers that go above and beyond the call of duty for their fellow countrymen against all odds in a balls to the wall battle of blazing bullets, big explosions and relentless action. I chose the latter and was on the edge of my seat the entire way.
Explosives expert Michael Bay directs this insane movie that follows family man Jack Da Silva (John Krasinski) who goes to Benghazi, Libya to join five other Private Military Contractors known as the Global Response Staff, or GRS. They are secretly in Benghazi to protect a covert base and its surprisingly useless CIA agents – well surprising in the fact that they can’t seem to handle themselves in any kind of combat situation.
The GRS are simply seen as the muscle to the CIA agents and their intelligence operations. Little do they know just how much they are going to need this muscle – Oh, they have no idea. The team, made up of Jack (Krasinski), Rone (James Badge Dale), Oz (Max Martini), Tanto (Pablo Schreiber), Tig (Dominic Fumusa), and Boon (David Denman), are all from various branches of US special ops, and are sent on chauffeur duty when American Ambassador Chris Stevens comes to town. They manage to successfully deliver the Ambassador to the American diplomatic compound, but the place is only a temporary haven for US citizens and it is unfortunately seriously under-armed and under-staffed without protection. Something the GRS notes with alarm.
So when as predicted by the GRS, on September 11 2012, the compound is hit with waves of attack from a large group of Islamic militants and when the Ambassador’s life comes under serious threat, the GRS is called upon for help. They really want to go but protocol stands in their way when the local CIA chief (David Costabile) refuses to let them go. After all, they’re not even supposed to be there in the first place. Suffice to say the guys can’t stop themselves from helping their fellow Americans for too long and set off on the suicide rescue mission anyway.
What follows is a relentless onslaught of military combat of the highest order as the GRS run with no restraint into the crowd of militants shooting their way to the aid of the Ambassador and his colleagues. And then have to spend the rest of the night fighting for their lives and those they were hired to protect against onslaught after bigger onslaught after infinity onslaughts of harrowing attacks! To give you a small description of the situation these guys find themselves in, I need to paint you a little backdrop of the Benghazi cityscape they have to navigate for survival. The place reminds me a little of Cape Town Parade, except instead of buying Gatsby’s and Samosas you can buy AK47’s and RPG’s, and the place is totally obliterated, with friendlies and enemies all looking the same.
After losing a little faith in the “art” of Michael Bay, I was pleased to have him take the reins with 13 Hours. It served as the perfect backdrop to his brand of fully loaded, explosive action. And the man does not disappoint with fantastically choreographed action scenes and frantic pacing, keeping you fully immersed in the action with breathtaking turns and a brilliant score by Lorne Balfe that had me riding the intense wave and holding on tightly every step of the way.
The acting is good and while the material isn’t particularly great or deep the cast still pulls off some fantastic performances. Krasinski stands out particularly and granted he is given the bulk of the material to work with and as the main character of the movie he does a great job of portraying the caring family man, motivated to survive so he can see his family again, but ruthless and clinical when necessary – as of course do the rest of the team who display the few moments of vulnerability they have with their family over Skype calls on their down time.
13 hours is a fantastic movie for so many reasons, but mostly because it’s fun to watch. So if you can forget all the political attachments, and resign yourself to the fact that Bay and co are not going to give you any real intellectual or deeply emotional complexity, and that there’s going to be a whole lot of flag-waving going on, then you are in for one hell of a ride.
Last Updated: February 19, 2016