Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” tells the true story of six ex-military men, who went on a daring rescue mission after a U.S. compound was attacked in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. The movie captures the truth of the attack on Benghazi in a highly emotional way by capturing the men’s emotions and the challenges they faced. Yet some of the story’s punch is lost in a confusing storyline.
Right out the gate, the movie starts with intense action and suspense. Audiences will appreciate Bay’s creative and vivid combat scenes; after all, this is what he’s known for. Several of these scenes will keep viewers guessing and wondering how the protagonists will get out alive. An overall accurate representation of the story, based on the book “13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff, was kept although there were some questionable ideas presented. For example, the movie gives the impression nearby American military bases refused to help the endangered soldiers, but many investigators say the nearby bases were too far away to respond.
If there’s one thing this film succeeds in, it’s casting. John Krasinski deviated from his well-known comedic role in “The Office” and portrayed the serious yet thoughtful Jack Silva. James Dale portrayed a fearless Tyrone Woods while Pablo Schreiber easily portrayed a headstrong Tanto Paronto. Adding to its exceptional casting, “13 hours” emotionally connected the audience to the characters. Bay beautifully portrayed the men’s thoughts, fears, pain, and bravery. One emotional scene shows Jack talking to his comrade Tyrone about not seeing his family. His fear of another man having to raise his children is palpable and strikes the soul; it reminds the audience these men are not simply characters, but real people portrayed in film.
Overall, Bay did an exceptional job capturing the movie’s purpose. The film continually strived to tell the unheard story of these six brave soldiers as accurately as possible. The film also portrayed good on both sides of the fighting. Peyman Moaadi played the Libyan native Amahl who stood by the Americans and helped fight the Islamic militants.
Despite all its excellence, the film did possess some major flaws. Many scenes dove into action without fully telling the audience what the characters were doing or why they were doing it. In one scene, the men are talking to the U.S. Ambassador then buying weapons from a Libyan native in the next. The transition between the two scenes did not give the audience enough information to understand what was going on. Even during the climax of the rescue mission, the movie rushed to a new scene without explaining how the men failed to find the ambassador in the smoke-filled compound.
Although the action was well compiled, some action scenes seem to serve no real purpose. There were many explosions and exchanging of bullets among the soldiers and Libyans. These exchanges could have very well been true, but they appeared overdramatized.
Despite its flaws, “13 hours” is a powerful movie with a powerful message of sacrifice. The men had no obligation to respond to the attack on the U.S. compound. These men were almost done serving their time in Benghazi and were close to returning home to their families. Yet they still risked their lives knowing there was a great chance they would not get out alive.
Audiences will leave the theater knowing a little bit more about the “the secret soldiers of Benghazi” and their side of the story; one of loss, bravery and sacrifice for a country tied up in controversy. Be aware the movie does contain intense scenes of war and strong language. Three and half out of five stars for the intensely compelling yet slightly confusing “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Bengahzi.”