13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (7/10)


An American Ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.

Title 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Director Michael Bay
Director of Photography Dion Beebe
Runtime 2 h 24 min
Certification R
Release Date 13 January 2016
IMDb Id tt4172430

‘Directed by Michael Bay’ has sort of become synonymous with sexy visuals of violent action, cheap thrills and/or mega explosions. This movie has those elements, but it’s trying to be more as well.

The story is well-known as it was reported extensively by global media at the time: the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and a nearby secret CIA compound (which clearly wasn’t quite ‘secret’ enough…). The movie puts you right in the middle of those 13 hours, viewed primarily through the eyes of two experienced CIA contractors, Jack Da Silva (John Krasinki) and Tyrone Woods (James Badge Dale). They and their contractor colleagues come to the aid of the ambassador and his staff when the local CIA chief is paralysed by the events, and Hillary Clinton (as Secretary of State at the time) did not sanction the desperately requested support.

There are many interpretations of Clinton’s (and others’) role(s) in the response to the attacks, but the movie doesn’t tread into that territory – it stays on the side of the battlefield itself and doesn’t seek to point too many fingers.

And if you approach watching this movie that way, it delivers. Whilst based on true facts, it doesn’t seek to explore the bigger picture. The bad guys are one dimensional, the good guys are mostly two dimensional, despite various scenes unsubtly interjected just to show them as family men, thus trying to give them a third dimension – but these scenes feel a just bit too scripted with that onbjective in mind. The movie is best on the battefield itself. The sense of confusion, threat, and despair during the seemingly neverending waves of attacks works. The cinematography works, and the lead actors are good.

As an action movie based on reality it is very watchable. Could it have been more? Yes, sure.


13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (7/10)
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