A surprisingly strong effort in realism from Bay makes this a riveting biopic about a harrowing event.
Michael Bay is back in the director’s chair for another retelling of a true military story, will it be a captivating tale, or “Pearl Harbor” all over again?
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” stars; John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa and Max Martini.
This story covers the true events of 2012 when an attack on a U.S compound leaves a neighboring security team no choice but to intervene, and over the course of many hours they will defend the compound from waves of rebel fighters coming from all directions, while having to do so with far less men and firepower.
Being directed by Michael Bay I was curious, and also worried about what this movie would turn out to be. There was no doubt the film would look great but I was interested to see if Bay would be able to create a movie worthy of the true-life events, and after watching I have to say he definitely did.
Sure there were some of the Bay-ism’s in this movie. Tons of vibrant explosions, some of his trademark camera techniques, the standard patriotic banter, and some melodramatic dialogue that he was clearly trying to use to tug on the heart strings, as if the real events wouldn’t do that enough already. But he reigned it in a great deal and none were overdone to the point of being a hindrance to the retelling of an absolutely harrowing and heroic night, and in the end was a respectful homage to the men that went through this ordeal.
This was a long movie but a highly compelling one as the first half sets up the scope of the tension in the area, the circumstances the American citizens were facing in the region, as well as getting to know the men that made up the security team. With small scenes that were honestly a little forced in their timing on occasion, we get to know the men and little glimpses of their lives back home, and there were very intriguing and did add to the story overall.
The casting was excellent, all 6 guys that made up the team were great in their performances. You can completely buy into their personalities and they feel every bit the part of the soldiers their characters were supposed to be. The was a variety in their personalities and it gave a feeling that these guys tried to learn from the men they were portraying.
Krasinski and Dale were excellent and both successfully carried the weight of this film with their chemistry together, and their execution of the emotional swings going on during the battle sequences will have you pulled into their characters.
My favorite performance was without question from Pablo Schreiber, I related to this character the most and for a group that wasn’t exactly sure why they were being attacked, he really managed to convey the uneasy feeling of the area and some of the difficulties of engaging in battle it urban areas with civilians and enemies blending among each other.
The entire second half is nearly non-stop chaos as the battle continues for over an hour of the run-time. Bay’s direction was excellent and the cinematography by Dion Beebe complemented it perfectly. There were many visually stunning scenes that capture the visceral chaos of the attacks and the relentless determination of this small group of men.
Excellent angles, perfect lighting, wide sweeping shots, some extremely effective hand held camera shots during some of the action-sequences you name it, and this film delivers it to pull you into the tense battle these men had to endure.
Watching this film will fatigue you as the tension from the violent battle feels like it never lets up, and in my opinion I felt it was a good thing because as the men begin to tire you can really get into the psyche and appreciate more the true determination the displayed.
It was nice to see Bay focus on the story and not his usual techniques. Never did there feel like a lack of respect for the true events this film was based on, for the sake of glamorizing the sacrifices these men made to make a movie. It was a riveting and compelling film that will have you on edge, it captures what these men went through and I highly recommend it.
Time: 144 min
MPAA Rating: R (For strong combat violence throughout, bloddy images and language)