Review: ’13 Hours’- Micheal Bay Takes a Serious Topic and Bays it up

There’s an inherent danger when a movie tackles such a hot-button topic as Benghazi. It’s easy for audience members to get annoyed when filmmakers who are hellbent on letting anyone know that they are depicting actual events when, in reality, they are painting Hollywood’s version of said events. Such is the case with Micheal Bay’s latest monstrosity 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. This new Micheal Bay film is supposed to tell the story of a CIA security team responding to militant attacks on both an American diplomatic compound in Libya and the nearby annex in September of 2012. There’s been rampant speculation that this movie might hurt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Well, that thought is erroneous. The film makes no mention of the former Secretary of State nor President Barack Obama. Like the Mitchell Zuckoff book it’s based on, the script by Chuck Hogan (The Town) does not take a political slant. The alleged focus of the film is on the security personnel who faced a very fluid and dangerous situation.

In tapping into such emotional subject matter, one of the key elements that Micheal Bay had to get right is that he had to create a connection between these men who paid the ultimate price and the audience. Bay even went as far to cast all-American looking John Krasinski as one of the former Navy SEALs, who says goodbye to his family once again to be a security contractor at the beginning of the story. Bay rounded out the cast with a group of actors that had to belong to an acting troupe called “men with the personality of wallpaper.”

It’s certainly easy for the audience to watch this movie and be swayed into liking it just for the sole reason of how tragic the Benghazi event was. Lucky for us, the audience can count on the over the top filmmaking of Micheal Bay to help us see the truth about how horrid Bay’s film is. Now, this movie certainly had its fair share of explosions and gunfire, which is right in Bay’s wheelhouse but where 13 Hours loses me is in the choice of shots. Was it necessary for Bay to use crane shots so we can follow the mortar blasts from overhead? Did we need to see slow sweeping shots of the dead militants outside the compound? Of course, the shot that caused me to sigh the most was Bay’s use of slow motion as one of the brave men defending the compound was blown up. This type of filmmaking is reminiscent of any one of the Transformers films. Often Micheal Bay has things cranked up to 11 when in reality he should have been at about a six.

Hogan’s writing is bloated Hollywood drivel. 13 Hours is chock full of sensationalized dramatic moments, one-dimensional characters, and a slanted take on an immense tragedy. In the end, for 13 Hours to have worked, Micheal Bay would have had to hit a massive of home-run with this film. What transpired is a film that was doomed from the get go. To be honest, it was going to be difficult for any filmmaker to encapsulate not only what transpired on that fateful day in September, but the horror that occurred in the aftermath. Sometimes certain topics are best left alone, and Benghazi should have been one of them.

13 hours

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.