13 Hours: the Se­cret Sol­diers Of Beng­hazi

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - – Ter­ence Toh

DO not be fooled: 13 Hours is not a pre­quel to 127 Hours, that 2010 movie where James Franco gets his hand caught un­der a rock. Both films, how­ever, fea­ture peo­ple caught in dan­ger­ous, im­pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tions: in 13 Hours’ case, six Amer­i­can peace­keep­ers tasked to de­fend a US se­cu­rity com­pound in Beng­hazi, Libya, fol­low­ing waves of in­sur­gent at­tacks on Sept 11, 2012.

Based on a true story, it is di­rected by Michael Bay. While that’s usu­ally enough to raise alarm bells, rest as­sured that the movie is mer­ci­fully not just two hours of ex­plo­sions. Bay ac­tu­ally shows a great amount of sen­si­tiv­ity in this movie, bal­anc­ing the ca­ma­raderie of the se­cu­rity teams tasked with an im­pos­si­ble mis­sion, with the ten­sions of life in post- Gaddafi Libya.

The cast, which in­cludes John Krasin­ski, James Badge Dale and Max Mar­tini, does a good job, and the ac­tion scenes are de­cent. The movie’s main flaw, how­ever, is that at 144 min­utes, it is just too darn long. Its end­less gun­fights and “an­tic­i­pat­ing the en­emy” scenes started to feel rep­e­ti­tious to­wards the film’s mid­way point, and cer­tain scenes dragged so much I started to fear 13 Hours would ac­tu­ally be 13 hours long.

The film also of­fers lit­tle ex­plo­ration of the po­lit­i­cal or cross- cul­tural back­ground of the Beng­hazi con­flict, so if view­ers are hop­ing to gain any in­sight on this his­tor­i­cal in­ci­dent, they should look else­where. With its un­end­ing com­bat scenes, 13 Hours some­times feels more like an over- long video game cutscene.

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