A politically driven movie with little to no politics. This was right in Michael Bay’s wheelhouse for a film NOT named Transformers because it featured intense action, beautiful explosions and jaw dropping moments while offering just enough sentimentality in between those moments to help the viewer see more than just soldiers that are good at killing, but instead to place a name and face with those soldiers understanding that these men are fathers, sons and brothers that are caught in a situation no one ever wants to be in, yet rise to the occasion.
On top of all the madness and chaos, these men are still trying to hold onto a shred of humanity while living in a war zone all while still representing our country to the best of their ability. Bay excels at revealing this premise to the viewer without getting overrun with action sequences or sappy dialogue. I actually think he was able to find a perfect balance between the two. However, what ultimately weighed the entire endeavor down was its overly long runtime. Coming in at 2hrs & 24min., believe when I say you feel every single one of those minutes. At one point during the firefighting, I began wondering why it took so long to get to this point. There was so much build up and padding of scenes that I think Bay mistook for tension that just ended up adding to the runtime and not the overall feel of the movie. This is nothing new with Bay films and at this point is just par for the course whenever you see one of his movies. He still hasn’t figured out the idea of trimming some of his scenes down and heavily relies on the slo-mo pan-around shots to establish feeling and location. After two hours of that, you are just kind of over it because frankly, he beats you into submission with them, they are that frequent.
It still needs to be said though, that Bay has indeed grown as a filmmaker and chose the right path in a politically charged situation to instead leave politics almost completely out of the movie. This proved to be a great move because the viewer could focus solely on the men, the people and situation surrounding them as well as the people they were trying to protect. Both Bay and the real survivors of that night have gone on record as saying that all of the finger pointing and politics didn’t begin until AFTER that night. Knowing that, Bay kept the film about the people. The issue of whether Benghazi was mishandled was only dealt with through short captions onscreen during the epilogue. The focus of the 13 Hours remained steadfast; brave men who were there to protect others even when it wasn’t their direct duty and did so with such valor that their lives were put on hold in order to save the lives of others. For that excellent portrayal, 13 Hours was a great watch. In particular, the very last scene that explained what the survivors received for their actions as well as the etching of the CIA stone. Both of these scenes proved extremely powerful.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi receives: