REVIEW – 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

This kind-of toned-down explosion-fest from Michael Bay boasts empty excitement – and misses the heart of the story. 

Being a journalist, I’m always looking for a story. And if you’re going to tell me a story, I want you to tell it to me well. 

Cue the Michael Bay directed movie that is 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, based on a true story. It borrows facts from the 2012 Benghazi Attacks in Libya, which you can read about in a more in-depth way here if you’d like (because of spoilers, obviously). The movie hones in on a crew of contracted workers (played by John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Dominic Fumusa, Pablo Schrieber, and David Denman) as they try to protect an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

Before I go any further, full disclosure: I’m really not a Michael Bay fan. I thought Armageddon was cheesy, I thought Pearl Harbour was over the top, and I dislike half of his Transformers franchise (movie number one was not too shabby; movie two was a real test of my patience). I find Bay pushes boundaries, but not to tell me or do anything new – it’s generally in the category of explosions. And the man did provide explosions in 13 Hours…and they weren’t so bad as I thought they’d be. This is a relatively scaled-back effort on Bay’s usual explosion efforts, but the kabooms and the gunshots detonated parts of the story with it. Going back and forth between the story, and then all the chasing/shooting/explosions at times felt a little dizzying. Instead of focusing on the characters I’m supposed to care about, there was too much of a focus on carnage.

The acting and the dialogue were a mixed bag. There were some fantastic humourous lines in the film. All six contracted worker characters were between somewhat to mostly relatable. I liked John Krasinski’s character, who made you feel like you were living the experience through him. In the same token, some characters sounded like idiots. David Costabile’s character, The Chief, was probably the biggest idiot of all – on so many levels.

Did I enjoy the movie? Well, I’m an action fan, but I’m not a fan of sacrificing story and writing for explosions. This isn’t Michael Bay’s worst effort in the director’s chair, and it could be worth seeing in the theatres if you’re looking for a testosterone-fuelled adventure in gunfire and a SHADE of current events. This one missed the entire point of the story for me, just like Bay did with Pearl Harbour, and seeing it once is enough. My rating? It’s JUST barely a 3 out of 5.

Curious to learn more about the film? Check out the trailer below!

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