Clar­ity amid the chaos

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -


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.

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