Thursday, February 23, 2017

Movie with Abe: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Directed by Michael Bay
Released January 15, 2016

Michael Bay isn’t likely at the top of anyone’s list of filmmakers to turn recent international events into movies. Bay doesn’t have a great track record with adapting history, with “Pearl Harbor” proving a box office success but immense critical failure. Bay is certainly a fan of mindless action, and therefore dramatizing the story of the fall of the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 is an intriguing choice. Not one for strong dialogue or plot, Bay manages to deliver a decent if extremely overlong and mild action piece about the CIA team fighting hard to defend their stronghold.

The film opens with titles declaring Benghazi to be one of the most dangerous places in the world, and the diplomatic compound is all that remains of the United States’ presence in the city. A crew of military contractors led by a man known as The Chief (David Costabile) includes Rone Woods (James Badge Dale), new arrival Jack Silva (John Krasinski), Oz Geist (Max Martini), Tig Tiegen (Dominic Fumusa), Tanto Paronto (Pablo Schreiber), and Boon Benton (David Denman). When militants attack the compound, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens (Matt Letscher)’s life in put in danger, and the “secret soldiers” must do their best to fight off an intense assault that feels like it will never end.

This film would never have made it onto my radar had it not been for my ridiculous attempt to watch every movie nominated for an Oscar in any category. I remember seeing a trailer for what looked like an all-out action movie and then being just as surprised by the title as I was by the fact that it was advertised as being directed by Bay. I thought it was much longer ago than just a full year, and it’s a rare thing that January releases end up with Oscar nominations. A more interesting statistic is that more than half of all the films Bay has made have actually been nominated for an Oscar, and in the Best Sound category, where this film contends this year. I’m not sure that this needed to be a movie, and listening to the acoustics for nearly two and a half hours isn’t really worth it. These actors mostly do good TV work and excel in comedic roles, and none of them stand out in this moderately-engaging film that’s prone to excessive theatrics and overindulgence but mostly stays on track.


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