This review may contain mild spoilers
Finally Michael Bay controls his loudness. Inspired by a patriotic true event, on the top, this war flick delivers a suffice intensity with proportional proximity. And of course, not that type hand-to-hand combat but firing mode between American and local people of Libya (specifically Benghazi) which is coherent with Bay’s specialization. The violence is still loud and less impressive than Bay’s previous works but proper. The explosion is occasional but impactuous. But do these put away Bay from critics for creating 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi way too political and pragmatic?
Talking politics, there’s a complexity in the fact sheet Bay seemingly avoids. There’s a war with overwhelming ambushes but without strategy, and too bad this is (told to be) the fact. As an unfortunate result, following downside is unavoidable; patriotic casts with unsensible situation and no good script to fill in the awkward gap. Was US government truly ignorant of the Mayday back then?
Instead of saving US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens (Matt Letscher) immediately, the six soldiers grouped in the Annex are seen intermittently in and out their vehicles. Too bad, by the time they ignore the order from CIA Chief Bob (David Costabile) to lay low, their chance turns slim.
Here’s how above situation happens. The threat starts since CIA operates secretly in Libya but the anticipation is slowed down by Bob. Bob’s objective is to prevent CIA from being exposed to the war whereas Annex is the only hope to the situation. Thus, Bob’s order to stand down confuses Tyrone and makes it too late to save the ambassador. But when the Islamic militant gang aims CIA secretive compound as next target, Tyrone has no option but taking over.
Some Sentiments From Michael Bay
Hardly criticizing Bay for above fact turned plot, we find another issue which he has always failed to triumph. Obviously not Bay’s area of expertise, the six soldiers happen to be simply friends of such shitty situation instead of tying a knot of brotherhood. Even interaction of real close friends; Jack (John Krasinski) and Tyrone (James Badge Dale), appears casual. Only a moment before Tyrone’s death is well-spent although we previously thought it’s too much to expect such sentiment from Bay’s.
Talking solo, every soldier is characterized, if not with proven capacity, a heroic figure, especially Tyrone who dies during an explosion and Tanto (Pablo Schreiber) who’s boldly against all odds of the war.
To praise more, Bay did a quite good job on the fatherhood issue. Jack with the dilemma of leaving his daughters and pregnant wife whereas Tyrone with the doubt of being a good father. Bay may fail their chemistry as friends but their quality as father is naturally inevitable and a relief Bay see this as an advantage.
We often find Bay’s works hard to praise but 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi gives us that chance. Not a large ensemble cast but quite terrific actors, especially with Dale upfront. No superfluous visual effects but gritty visuals are proven effective to draw our sympathy towards the war and victims.
The politics and practicality, although harm some parties for being (in)accurate, elevates the event another level of recognition and appreciation. The soldiers indeed deserve a visual tribute, especially if the stand-down order was truly given and the military aid was otherwise. In conclusion, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is not the best of its genre but Bay must have done his best to ease our pain, let us pass the 144 minutes with mixed feelings. This is more than just enough.
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Toby Stephens, Pablo Schreiber
Duration: 144 mins