In the line of fire

13 Hours: the Se­cret Sol­diers Of Beng­hazi

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - Arul – Davin

MICHAEL Bay’s third movie based on ac­tual events – af­ter Pearl Har­bor and Pain & Gain – is per­haps his best “se­ri­ous” work to date, even if it does go on a lit­tle too long at 140- plus min­utes. Based on the Sept 11, 2012 at­tacks on the US diplo­matic com­pound and nearby CIA an­nex in Beng­hazi, Libya, 13 Hours fo­cuses more on the ca­ma­raderie and sac­ri­fice of fight­ing men – like last year’s Lone Sur­vivor – and not on the political cir­cum­stances and con­tro­ver­sies be­hind the vi­o­lence. ( Pass­ing men­tion is made to “a video clip”, namely the no­to­ri­ous In­no­cence Of Mus­lims trailer which has been blamed for in­cit­ing the at­tacks. An ob­ser­va­tion about the at­tack, made by one of the de­fend­ers to­wards the end, of­fers up a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.)

In frac­tured, frag­ile post- Gaddafi Libya, it doesn’t take long for ten­sions to rise in the movie, and about two- thirds of its run­ning time is de­voted to the at­tacks and the long, long night faced by the de­fend­ers. There ap­pear to be some con­ve­nient lapses of dis­clo­sure ( like why no air sup­port was forth­com­ing) and the near- su­per­heroics in the CIA com­pound might seem ex­ag­ger­ated to some.

Mostly, though, Bay shows com­mend­able con­trol and even sen­si­tiv­ity in telling the sto­ries of the six men who made up the CIA com­pound’s Global Re­sponse Staff con­trac­tors ( but re­ally, Michael, a mor­tar shell does not take on the pro­por­tions of a 200kg bomb, even when it’s fall­ing in Bay mo­tion).

So if you can put up with the di­rec­tor oc­ca­sion­ally be­labour­ing the point, 13 Hours has some good things to of­fer: the strong per­for­mances of its prin­ci­pal cast headed by John Krasin­ski and James Badge Dale, and Chuck Ho­gan’s screen­play which ef­fec­tively cap­tures the pres­sures of liv­ing on the ra­zor’s edge in an en­vi­ron­ment where one mis­take in telling friend from foe means cer­tain death.

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