Despite creating some of Hollywood’s most cynical and lifeless blockbusters, Michael Bay has made a huge comeback with 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, an authentic and enthralling war film that lacks the glamorization that is often found in such films. Bay has a talent for spectacle, and the film is thrilling at any turn, and actually provides some tension as opposed to non-stop action. Most importantly however, while the film could’ve been a shameless and cynical political vehicle, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a genuine and repose trip tribute to the military.
Telling the true story of an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya the film is an account of the team of CIA members that protected the strong hold when under attack from radical fundamentalists. While Bay has never been strong at capturing characters, the use of talented actors such as John Krasinski and James Badge Dale elevate the script, and the actors give authentic and at points moving performances as the real life heroes. The reason that the intense action works so well is because there’s investment in the characters, and Krasinski’s final scenes seal the emotional core of the film.
Its overlong and at points the story is weak, but 13 Hours: The Sceret Soldiers of Benghazi is without a doubt Micahel Bay’s best film, serving as an homage to the real life heroes and a contained thriller in of itself. There’s a spectacle of brutal and fully realized action, but what makes the film work is its simplicity and realism. Respectful and compelling, this is a comeback for Bay and a touching personal account. Grade: B+