Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU Rental
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It is a tense action film thanks to some of Michael Bay's best direction in years."

Six members of a security team stationed in Benghazi, Libya, fight to defend the American diplomatic compound...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi tells the story of the September 11, 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. It spends about forty minutes introducing us to the characters and how they operate, then it hurls you into action sequence after action sequence. It gives you a few moments to breathe, scenes where characters discuss what's at stake and so on, then it hurls you into another. The lack of strong character development and build-up is a little disappointing, but it doesn't quite spoil the film. Remember, this is an action movie made by Michael Bay – this isn't a documentary. Anyway, it takes a few predictable stops, even for those unfamiliar with this tragedy, and it leads to a fairly effective ending.

So, the plot isn't perfect. Still, it does enough to fill you in and elicit some emotion – albeit not as much as if it had more depth. 13 Hours works very well as an action movie, though. There are plenty of explosions as you'd expect from any Michael Bay action movie. However, having watched many of Bay's previous films, I felt this one was balanced a bit better. It has the blazing shootouts, it has the tense chase scenes, and, of course, it has plenty of explosions. The suspense is what separates it from some of his other movies. Many of these scenes are very suspenseful and, at times, even frightening. It kept me on edge, waiting eagerly waiting for the next scene. There is such a thing as too much action, though, and this film suffers from that issue. It starts to get too repetitive by the end. The film feels like it could have been trimmed and fine-tuned.

The acting was good. John Krasinski, more formally known as 'Jim,' does well as the (almost?) leading man. James Badge Dale and David Costabile are also good. The film is shot very well. If you've watched any Michael Bay films before, you'll notice the same style here. I really liked the camerawork, though. The music was good, fitting the tone of the film. The film was written by Chuck Hogan, based off a book that I have never read; Michael Bay directs. The writing could have used some more character development and a better balance between its action scenes. Yes, Michael Bay utilizes more than a few explosions, but he doesn't utilize enough to fill a 140-minute runtime. Although I liked this tense, gritty, and suspenseful Bay, I hope he finds a way to tell stories without bloating them.

Overall, I liked 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. It is a tense action film thanks to some of Michael Bay's best direction in years. At the same time, it also lacks effective characters and it is bloated. It hits more than it misses, though. Just remember: this isn't a documentary. It's not supposed to be 100% accurate. Furthermore, I am neutral in terms of politics in film, so I don't allow movies like this to influence me.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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