I kind of gave up on Michael Bay about three Transformers ago. I had no plans to see 13 Hours, but my wife rented it from Redbox. It was better than I expected, but still a Michael Bay film. The story that’s being told surpasses most of the little annoying things that are often found in a Michael Bay action flick. I give 13 Hours the Decent Watch rating.
In Benghazi, Libya, members Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods (James Badge Dale), Jack Silva (John Krasinski), and Mark ‘Oz’ Geist (Max Martini) with others are part of the Annex Security Team. These are former soldiers assigned to protect operatives and diplomats in the city. When Islamic militants attack the U.S. Consulate less than a mile away the six men have to decide whether to engage or not.
A story about American soldiers has an inherent place in our hearts. Most of us know someone who has fought in the war at this point. It’s easy to feel like these films are just a guaranteed cash grab. The built in audience a soldier or war film has makes it likely they’ll get people in the seats. There are tons of different ways these films can be handled and some work better than others. They are not inherently good movies, but often make for compelling stories.
John Krasinski was an element I was apprehensive about. I loved him on The Office, but I wasn’t sure he could pull off a soldier. He does and the onscreen emotions he delivers are powerful. They did manage to give him a few lines that felt like Jim and I enjoyed that. I also liked James Badge Dale and Dominic Fumusa. The group of former soldiers are all very likable.
While not a bad movie, there are some weak story elements
I didn’t like how Michael Bay or writers Chuck Hogan and Mitchell Zuckoff really hammered home these were people. There are several moments that are in the film to remind us they have families. With a two and a half hour runtime, it seems those moments could have been trimmed out. Have some faith in your audience and your characters that we don’t need long moments of them staring at pictures and being homesick. In fact, the camaraderie amongst the soldiers is enough to make me like them. Their sense of duty and honor is strong and admirable. The fact they are family men only makes them more likable, but it’s not the only reason I like them.
Even with a surplus of explosions, the film was better than I expected. It’s a little on the long side, but the story did hit the emotions. It’s a story that I don’t think I heard about until I saw this film. If you’re a fan of military stories than this one will probably work for you.