Wednesday, June 01, 2016

'13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi' Is Michael Bay's Best Film in Years

First of all, I like that the protagonists of this movie are private military contractors.  While regular enlisted soldiers have been constantly portrayed in film and TV as noble and patriotic, private military contractors on the other hand are usually portrayed as sleazy and greedy for money.  It’s refreshing to see a movie portraying them as heroic for a change.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a film about the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack – also referred sometimes as the “Battle of Benghazi” – which took the lives of four Americans, most notably Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, after Islamic terrorists stormed the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya and its CIA annex, which was located a mile away.  The movie centers on the six-man security team of private military contractors made up of former elite soldiers from the Navy SEALs, Marines, and U.S. Army Rangers who engage the waves of attackers in a night-long hellish firefight to protect the remaining Americans.
This movie had me thoroughly engrossed.  There’s some problem with the pacing, but I didn’t mind much.  I was fully immersed on it.  It’s just that I’m a sucker for “hotspot” war movies – especially when they’re based on real-life events.  Still, it’s a genuinely gripping story by its own.

I was aware of the Benghazi attack back in 2012.  But only in a general sense.  The movie provided me a more comprehensive understanding on what happened.  Sure, some trivial details might have been fictionalized – something to be expected in biopics – however, it’s likely to be authentic in the main facts since some of the survivors were consulted during the production of this film.

The nature and content of this movie can’t help but be somewhat politically charged.  However, it was definitely not politically motivated, though liberals will probably accuse it as such.  It has this sincerity about it in its attempt to serve as an objective narrative of the events.
As a film production, it’s definitely director Michael Bay’s best work in years.  He has the reputation for stuffing his movies with loud, explosive action spectacles.  So there was this legitimate fear that he might go over-the-top with this film which might romanticize or discount the real-life tragic event that this movie is based from.  But thankfully, the action is within restrained, down-to-earth levels, and the needed heartfelt tone remains intact in its delivery of the story.

Also, the great acting deserves to be acknowledged.  Its actors are generally unknown but they delivered powerful dramatic performances.

In my opinion, with 13 Hours, Bay succeeds in visually retelling the Benghazi events in a visceral manner without being insensitive.  There are thrills, but there is no unnecessary sensationalism.  It’s not only a great action movie to be enjoyed, but it also inspires reflection.  Thus, 13 Hours is one of my favorite films of the year so far.

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