Director: Michael Bay
Two and a quarter hours long, about two of which is real-time combat, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi is one for all those who found Black Hawk Down a little bit slow and lacking in action.
Canny enough to namecheck Black Hawk Down as an obvious antecedent, 13 Hours is similarly based on a real-life incident, in this case the 2012 ‘Battle Of Benghazi’, with our plucky, outnumbered grunts facing down wave upon wave of marauding jihadists rather than Somali militia. Real life serves the makers well, shifting the action from a consulate location, where the film’s skill at evoking the sheer noise and confusion of war leaves you wondering, like the grunts, what the fuck is going on, to a second setting where, without wanting to give anything away, things settle down a bit, though with no let-up in the action. There’s a car chase scene which is just wow. More gunfire, night vision, sniper scope and RPG action than you can shake a stick at.
Director Bay, returning to the kind of form he first showed in The Rock, consistently finds new ways of framing the action, producing startling images and camera movements within the bedlam of combat. On the minus side, the cast is a little indistinct and may well test your abilities when it comes to telling one bearded, bloody and similarly attired military guy from another. But in a way that’s the point. Anyone fearing Zero Dark Thirty jingoism of the MURICA! sort can rest easy. One of the guys has a tattoo that shows his flank split open to reveal an American flag beneath, but in fact there’s a more blue collar Springsteenesque patriotism at the root of 13 Hours. Our heroes are little more than mercenaries, rueful in the knowledge that their heroism will be unrewarded. They don’t fight for the flag, they fight for each other.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Black Hawk Down.