13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Michael Bay
John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Dominic Fumusa
"A Riveting Testament of Heroism Amidst Chaos"

Posted Monday, Nov 13, 2023 90

The film delves into the harrowing true account of six ex-military operators assigned to protect CIA operatives in Benghazi, Libya. As the 11th anniversary of September 11th unfolds, they are thrust into a night-long battle after the U.S. compound is attacked.

With themes of bravery, sacrifice, and the fog of war, `13 Hours` paints a stark, intense picture of modern combat and the unforeseen heroism of those caught in its maelstrom. The tone is gritty and tense, with a persistent sense of imminent danger.

The ensemble cast, led by John Krasinski and James Badge Dale, delivers a taut and grounded portrayal of elite soldiers. Their commitment to character brings an emotional depth and a human face to the soldiers` extraordinary courage under fire.

Michael Bay`s direction is unexpectedly restrained yet effectively sharp. He trades his usual flair for grandiosity for nuanced tension building, steering clear of overt politicization to focus on the ground-level experience of combat.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi movie review

The score by Lorne Balfe is appropriately haunting and adrenaline-pumping, heightening the emotional stakes and the relentless suspense of the narrative without overwhelming it.

Cinematographer Dion Beebe masterfully captures the chaos of the nocturnal siege with a mixture of immediacy and clarity, utilizing a kinetic yet coherent visual style that plunges the audience into the heart of the action.

The production design is meticulously detailed and authentic, crafting a believable and immersive backdrop against which the story`s dramatic events unfold, highlighting the stark contrast between the operators` resilience and their deteriorating surroundings.

While not overly flashy, the special effects are convincing and serve the story well, especially in depicting the visceral realism of the battle and the hostile environment of a city engulfed in conflict.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi movie review

The editing is tight, contributing to a propulsive pace that maintains suspense and keeps viewers engaged despite the narrative`s predictability. The balance between quieter, character-driven moments and intense action sequences is deftly managed.

The film`s pacing is measured - it takes its time to establish context and stakes before launching into a relentless, heart-pounding siege that rarely lets up.

The dialogue is serviceable and occasionally crackles with military jargon, though it sometimes veers into cliché. Nevertheless, it effectively conveys the camaraderie and urgency of the operators` situation.

While the film`s dedication to a boots-on-the-ground perspective is commendable, `13 Hours` sometimes struggles with depth of context and can feel like a succession of set-pieces. The human element is present, but occasionally overshadowed by the spectacle of combat.

I was left both shaken and stirred by `13 Hours.` The movie triumphs as a visceral war thriller that honors the real-life heroism of its subjects. Its intense focus on the experience of the besieged operatives creates a powerful, emotional resonance that lingers long after the credits roll. Despite minor narrative shortcomings, the film`s earnest portrayal of courage amidst terror illuminates the screen with the stark realities of modern warfare, reminding us of the personal sacrifices often hidden behind geopolitical headlines.