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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

ByDido Gompertz

Feb 5, 2016

A film that fully embraces its own flaws, 13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a macho spectacle and advert for American values. In typically unapologetic fashion, Michael Bay packs in the explosions and cheesy one-liners, keeping audiences guessing whether or not the entire movie is actually satire.

A Hollywood reconstruction of the attack on Benghazi’s US Embassy, 13 Hours seems more like Donald’s Trump’s ultimate fantasy: intensely patriotic action is broken up by sweaty soldier workout montages. Leading characters include 9/11, a collection of bearded manly men, and the Star-Spangled Banner, which makes a cameo in as many scenes as possible. John Krasinski has come a long way from his days in The US Office: Jim Halpert has swapped practical jokes for a six-pack and an unquenchable desire to make America proud, although surely audiences everywhere would have appreciated the subtle humour of an AK47 encased in jelly.

The sole female character, seemingly the only American attempting diplomacy with the ‘bad guy’ Libyans, is mostly relegated to deskwork and bringing juice and cookies to the big guns.

Bay’s love for overdramatized dialogue and frequent action sequences makes the film entertaining at first, but gets old quickly. By the end of the 13-hour siege, it is easy to empathise with the soldiers: the incessant action is exhausting. The main redeeming feature is the occasional scenic panorama of Benghazi. A shot of sunrise over the city, accompanied by the call to prayer, offers a moment’s respite before the next round of epilepsy-inducing gunfire.

There’s a charm to the cringe-worthy dialogue. However, despite the action sequences dragging on for the last hour of the film with an increasingly tense soundtrack, it’s hard to feel emotionally invested in the six main soldiers, primarily because their identical beards make them hard to tell apart.

Overall, 13 Hours is a half-baked attempt at both entertaining an audience for two and a half hours, and justifying American foreign policy until the next conflict.


Image: The MacGuffin; Youtube.com

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