Tuesday, 8 August 2017

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


*Originally written May 26th, 2016*

"Bay Hawk Down"

If you know me, then you know I hate Michael Bay. He's made a couple of decent films in his career, The Rock and Pain and Gain for example, but for the most part it's garbage. His latest film, another true story opened to mixed reviews, flopped and disappeared from theaters before I even had a chance to watch it (It only showed at my local cinema for 3 days). I was intrigued at how this could be, because even it was terrible, a Michael Bay film is always a fascinating experience, but this was just very mediocre and forgettable.

It tells the true that follows six members of a security team who fight to defend the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya after waves of terrorist attacks on September 11, 2012.

None of it really worked for me. There were some genuinely tense moments here and there, but it was mostly just dull. I appreciated how Bay toned down his "Bayisms" as a full-on Bay film would have just played as tasteless and offensive. It reminded me a little of Lone Survivor, which I wasn't a huge fan of, but at least it had the charisma of Mark Wahlberg to carry the film.

The cast here is pretty weird, full of TV stunt casting. The lead is John Krasinski, who you'll probably know as Jim from the U.S. version of The Office. He's extremely misguided and miscast in this role and just comes off as goofy. Sometimes comedy actors exceed in dramatic roles, this wasn't one of them. I didn't really care for the rest of cast either or the characters, which is probably due to the script.

Like most Bay films, the script is utter trash. So much cliché military nonsense and patriotism that hits you over the head from opening scene to the final shot. I didn't feel anything for any of the team, even though the first 40 minutes is spent with them. We get a weird scene where one of them is calling their wife as she breaks down crying and admits she's pregnant while she's at a drive-through McDonald's. 

It's so long too, like unreasonably long, bordering on 2 and a half hours and I was pretty much done about 90 minutes in. It was overkill. It might have been a bit more tolerable had there been some interesting action, but there's not. What we do get is some really long slow-motion shots and that over-saturated yellow look that Bay seems to love. 

Still I do appreciate how Bay kept it in his pants for the most part. It's easily his most mature film to date, but that's not saying much. Had 13 Hours had a better screenwriter, better cast and much shorter run-time this could have been an excellent dedication to these soldiers who went through a really hellish night, but instead we're stuck with a mediocre war film that's overlong, poorly written and just forgettable.

5/10 Dans

13 Hours is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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