Clarity amid the chaos
13 HOURS : THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI ( MA15+)
Director: Michael Bay ( Transformers) Starring: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Max Martini Verdict: The countdown to a meltdown NOT much art. Plenty of artillery. That’s the total takeaway from 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, an old- fashioned, mow’ em- down- and- bag-’ em- up war picture from director Michael Bay.
If you’ve already written off this filmmaker for previous cinematic crimes committed in his name ( Pearl Harbor, the Transformers series), then so be it.
The surprisingly bearable levels of boneheaded bombast powering this production won’t be changing your mind this lifetime.
However, the straight route taken through this true story of dual attacks on US diplomatic and intelligence interests in Libya – and the controversial role played by hired military contractors in the aftermath – is undoubtedly effective.
If you were roaming the backblocks of international news headlines in Septmber 2012, you might vaguely recall the events depicted here.
As an incendiary tie- in to the anniversary of the 9/ 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, a mixed bag of Benghazi- based Libyan militia outfits launched two co- ordinated antiAmerican assaults on their home turf.
The US Embassy took the first brutal hit, resulting in the tragic deaths of Ambassador Chris Stephens and three of his staff. Then a second wave of all- out chaos crashed upon a supposedly secret CIA hideaway located a few city blocks away.
With President Obama’s White House brains trust noticeably slow to decide upon any kind of apt response to the crisis, it was left to six American men on the ground in Benghazi to take matters into their own hands.
All were former soldiers who had since become private contractors to the CIA’s much- maligned GRS ( Global Response Staff) unit.
OK, so 13 Hours is not as politically inflammatory as Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. However, it is just as blindly patriotic.
The long, lonnnngggg running time ( 144 minutes) of 13 Hours turns out to be a positively clarifying move, as this was one heck of a complicated and tragic mess.
Just ask Hilary Clinton, who served as US Secretary of State during the ordeal. Her current campaign for President is haunted by the affair.