13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi


When everything went wrong, six men had the courage to do what was right.

Michael Bay (Transformers) brings his explosion-triggering, flag-waving style of direction to this account of the six-member security team that went to the aid of Americans trapped in the embassy in Benghazi, when it came under fire. Stars John Krasinski (TV’s The Office), James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3) and Max Martini (Pacific Rim).... More

Post-Gaddafi Libya is well on its way to becoming a failed state when Jack Da Silva (Krasinski) arrives to take up a position as a private security contractor protecting US Embassy staff and their families. Da Silva hasn't been on the ground for long before US compounds come under attack from hundreds of militants, the armed team finding themselves the last line of defence in a lawless city lacking a formal American military presence.Hide

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Flicks Review

I saw Michael Bay’s latest film and I did not hate it. Choosing to leave aside key political considerations - the timing of this film depicting controversial events that have dogged a frontrunning presidential candidate and its accuracy in doing so - helps, with the results being predictably jingoistic, but still an intense watch. Yes, it’s basically a big screen Call of Duty once the gunplay commences, as a few highly-skilled and heavily-armed US military contractors do their utmost to repel waves of Islamic militants during one night in chaotic post-Gaddafi Libya.... More

We’ve seen plenty of bearded manly men toting guns before, though Bay’s aided by the fellows behind the whiskers, chiefly John Krasinski (TV’s The Office) as a muscled audience surrogate new to Benghazi and James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3) as an old pal on the same detail who can show him around. It doesn’t take long for the pair to find themselves in a sticky situation which speaks to the constant uncertainty and danger these armed, unwelcome, foreigners find themselves in, and that’s even before any locals have been sawn in half by heavy machine gun fire.

Yes, that happens, as well as grotesque injuries to heads, torsos, and limbs. Maybe especially limbs, actually. Bay would probably claim he’s not out to glamourise the high body count carnage, but I would expect as many “woops” from young men as winces from other audience members. Both groups may find themselves holding their breath for extended periods (as I did) during the kinetic, frantic, and anxious final act - Bay’s lack of subtlety and love of bombast serving the film surprisingly well, even without Megan Fox’s posterior in sight. Oh, there are still American flags in slow-mo though. I mean, come on.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

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BY Brendo superstar

Michael Bay is well known for his high action impact films that burst to the brim with unbridled patriotism. Each paint a picture of sheer superiority for the 'red, white and blue' in its devoted battle against insurmountable odds for the good of man kind and '13 Hours' is no different. Bay's flirtation with a serious event takes time to build but when the temperature rises, so does the death count as bullets fly and explosions deal out maximum destruction. '13 Hours' has all the hallmarks of a... More sensational night out at the cinema and knowing of its impending release I was unashamedly excited when the opening scenes flashed up onto the screen.
Michael Bay (Transformers, Armageddon) has been described as an odd kind of fellow, requiring his cast to go about doing unusual tasks in between scene takes and camera shots. Now I don't know if the sources to these little rumours are actually true but you can get a feel of the Director's personality through the story he is trying to tell. The big question would have to be - is Michael Bay disguising his production as propaganda considering today's political climate? The Director has been quoted as saying that he wanted to keep politics out of the film but war is politics and politics is war. '13 Hours' is very much in the mould of 'Black Hawk Down', and it is Ridley Scott's war epic that is referenced in Bay's film. Whereas 'Black Hawk Down' was able to present the audience with repenting emotional edge, '13 Hours', although just as sombre, just as disastrous, does at times fail to connect with its targeted audience. This is not to say that Michael Bay's little foray into the world of the modern soldier is not compelling watching. The whole production is professionally shot and immediately puts the viewer right into the highly tense atmosphere of North Africa. The acting is first class with a cast best suited for the conditions rather than having the temptation of bringing in big names that perhaps would have looked out of place in such a production where the action is the star of the show. Chuck Hogan's screenplay based on Mitchell Zuckoff's book is gritty and authentic, creating the strained atmosphere of the situation that is so evident throughout the movie.
Based on a true event, '13Hours' is set in the North African country of Libya just after the fall of their Military leader, General Gadaffi. Quite simply it is one of the most dangerous places on earth with a hotpot of warring factions trying to claim control of a nation on the brink of destruction. America's presence is strong throughout the crumbling cities but intelligently keep a low profile, hiding their existence from the dangerous warlords and gangs that are rising up from the ashes. Six men, all ex United States military are employed as special security contractors to expertly 'babysit' diplomats and consular officials in the Libyan city of Benghazi. When the US Ambassador is attacked and killed in an American complex the six hired soldiers must defend the remaining personal under their protection. All hell breaks lose as the audience is witness to total warfare in an intense battle that lasts through the night. John Krasinski, James Badge Dale and Pablo Schreiber are three of the actors employed to play these brave men. Not household names but they do look like professional military men, beefed up to provide imposing figures as they blast the enemy to 'kingdom come'.
'13 Hours' is great to watch, there is no doubting this and it builds up nicely to a climax that is full throttle action. The film will appeal to any blood thirsty junkie wanting their adrenalin hit but where it seems to wane is the connection that the characters have with the audience. It seems hard at times to really feel anything for the cast with Bay preferring to focus on the heroic deeds of these soldiers. They are heroic if this is indeed what went down on this very violent night but it may be a little too 'Team America' for some viewers.Hide

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The Press Reviews

54% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Bay squanders the potential to explore the nuances of a politically sensitive issue and instead descends into a gruesome display of war porn. Full Review

  • The film wants us to feel, as one of the men they protect says, "I'm proud to know Americans like you," but we're never really given the opportunity. Full Review

The Talk
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