Saturday, February 13, 2016

Movie Review: "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" (2016)

Movie"13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi"
Ticket Price: $7.25
Director: Michael Bay
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 24 minutes
Image Source
A team of private security contractors makes a rescue attempt at a temporary embassy that has come under fire. This group of men must then return to their secret base and fight to fend off a terrorist assault on their CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.

Wait a second...............Michael Bay made a semi-decent movie?!?!?!

Based on the book "13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi," Michael Bay's "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" tells the story of the Benghazi terrorist attacks of 2012 from the perspective of the private security contractors stationed at a covert CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. This, of course, has been a much discussed, politically charged topic in recent years, and as always, we won't get into here. Because this has been such a hot button issue, this will automatically divide audiences before ever stepping foot into theaters to see the film. For what it's worth, Michael Bay and the writers of "13 Hours" do their damnedest to try and stay away from the politics of the event, focusing instead on the men tasked with saving lives during said terrorist attack on Benghazi's temporary U.S. embassy and the subsequent attack on their CIA station.

As a movie, it is painfully obvious that "13 Hours" is a Michael Bay production. He uses many of his signature, standard and expected tropes from beginning to end. There are many moments that come off as unintentionally funny and overly cheesy, and if you've seen any of Bay's other films, you'll know what we mean. This is the Michael Bay we have come to both love (but mostly hate) over the years. Some examples of these tropes include: the overemphasized workouts sequences of the shirtless security team as they drag gigantic tires through the sand while a pair of people is having a serious conversation right on the other side of a strategically placed window; or, how the men are shown doing pull-ups and sit-ups while their muscles are drenched with sweat, or possibly oil, as their pecs glisten in the desert sun and their arms are shown prominently displaying American flags at just the right camera angle to make them look like they are waving proudly on a fleshy sky. There is the arbitrary call home right before ish hits the fan as each individual soldier simultaneously talks to their loved ones, with one soldier even reminding his wife to pay his life insurance premiums and finding out his wife is pregnant all in the same call. These calls also give Bay the opportunity to load up the product placement of Doritos, McDonald's, and Disneyland, all within a span of 20 seconds.

Not since his feature film debut has Michael Bay made a movie that clocks under two hours, and "13 Hours" is no exception. Coming in at 2 hours and 28 minutes, this film is entirely too long. Though it is well paced, there are many superfluous scenes that don't add much to the plot or characters but were, for some reason, left in the final cut of the movie. Added up, these unnecessary scenes could have easily shaved 30-45 minutes off the total run time.

Look, we've talked a lot of crap about this movie already, and the fact of the matter is, "13 Hours" is actually not terrible. It's definitely not as great as some people are saying, but in relation to Bay's other flops, we'd take this movie over any of the "Transformers" movies hands down. Of course, there is a lot of action and explosions here, which you'd expect from any war picture, but when you consider it's a Michael Bay war picture? Be prepared for lots of booms and zooms. There manages to be a lot of great tension during these moments of hell-fire, leaving the audience uncertain what will happen next (provided you don't already know their account of what happened). As we mentioned, though a politically charged topic, politics and blaming are essentially left out of this movie. Some people will like this aspect, others will not. We can't really complain about the acting, though some of the writing does leave a little to be desired. It's nice to see Pablo Schreiber getting work, and he provides for some good moments of comedic relief. Not every character has the same tone about their development, and one character, CIA station chief Bob, played by David Costabile, is so over-the-top cartoonish, stereotypically combative, and such an outrageously incompetent bureaucrat, we can't help but question how authentic this portrayal really is.

In the end, "13 Hours" is not without its entertaining moments. If you are a fan of military action films, you probably won't be disappointed. There is a lot more Bay could have done to tone down his signature signs of involvement which would have made the film more enjoyable for us, but it's still a decent watch nonetheless.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 54%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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