MOVIE REVIEW: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Director: Michael Bay
Writers:Chuck Hogan (screenplay), Mitchell Zuckoff (book)
Stars: John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, James Badge Dale

Michael Bay brings the real life story of the Death of a US Ambassador in Libya. 

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I’m going to start this review by stating that I didn’t have a clue what happened in Benghazi.  I don’t watch the news and I don’t read the papers, since the start of the financial crisis in 2008 I’ve decided that I want to keep what little happiness there is in the world to myself.  I’ve picked pieces up here and there because a lot of my American Facebook friends posted pictures of different politicians in front of different hearings talking about where to lay the blame.  I also don’t want any of you to think that this review takes away from the death or the acts of the soldiers who defended their countrymen by placing their own safety on the line.  I find it remarkable that in today’s world there are men and women who would risk their lives for a relatively small salary to help their country, you can’t have anything other than admiration for these people.

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This film is just gun fire and explosions for two and a half hours, I’m not joking, I left the cinema with shell shock and some PTSD.  Gunfire was ringing in my ears for about 4 hours later.  I understand that this was a horrible battle for survival, and that Michael Bay directed it, but there was such a rich story there that was just masked with the huge pyrotechnic budget.  At one point, and this is not a joke, I thought that when a convoy of trucks were coming down the road, honestly, I expected Optimus Prime to transform and start shooting at the locals.

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For those of you who were like me before the film started, this film is about a secret CIA base in Libya, and an American Ambassador who visited and was killed when the locals found out that he was there.  The country, since the death of Gaddafi, was stuck in the middle of a war of the gangs, all seeking to make their lives better with the left over weapons from the dictators regime.  The CIA were there to make sure that weapon sales were not going to terrorists.

This is Black Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty without the class and level of script that made those films modern classics or even that made them good.  Bay, I’m sure, thought that this would be his shining moment of Oscar worthiness but fails on so many levels that it’s unreal.  I know a lot of people who will still go see this and then make you feel like you’re an idiot for not liking it.  To them I say the same as I say about everything.  Each to their own.  For me this was just an excuse to exploit the fear that is going around all countries in the western world at the minute.  That fear is that every Muslim is out to kill us.  They are not.  I’m an Irish male who in his teens traveled to London to see his brother and because I was an Irish male I was stopped, searched, and questioned, just because I have an Irish accent and was the right age at the time, they thought that I was a member of a paramilitary.  Most of the Muslim community now, like most of the Irish Community back in the 90’s and before that, were just normal people wanting to live their lives in peace.  Now I shall climb down off that soapbox.

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The action in 13 Hours is great, but there needed to be something more behind it, there needed to be less testosterone going around.  The levels of that hormone were so high in this film that one of the female reviewers actually grew a beard during the running time.  At least that was her excuse.  You can’t fault the performances, they had little to work with in the script, and some of the TV actors who are leaping to the big screen here should have known better.  Special effects are great too, and a little bit of the guns and explosion would have been fine.  This film lacked a certain amount of heart, and you don’t get to love the characters naturally, it’s forced.  The scriptwriter’s think that making the soldiers repeat that they want to get home to their children makes you care about them, when a better written part would have been better.

If you really want the story behind the Benghazi attack then read a book, this is just Michael Bay using up his leftover pyrotechnic budget from his last Transformers movie.

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