When telling such a serious story about an international incident where americans lost their lives, perhaps frenetic director Michael Bay wasn’t the best choice to helm 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The Transformers director makes the film his own, which is not a good thing and takes the audience on a two-hour plus trip full of explosions and absolutely zero substance that prevents the audience from caring about the individuals who laid their lives on the line for what they thought was the right thing to do.
Bay has found many ways in the past to make his work unwatchable from terribly developed characters, music video cinematography, immature humor to action scenes so in your face you can’t even tell what’s going on. All those characteristics are again on display in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. None of the special CIA security team (played by John Krasinski and James Badge Dale among others) are fleshed out at all besides the background of they have kids at home they want to see again. The ex soldier story is delivered in a clichéd style that only Michael Bay can give the audience with our heroes left in a one-dimensional state.
Besides the poor character development committed by Bay, 13 Hours is a hard movie to watch because of Bay’s shooting style. There are lens flares in almost 75 percent of the film and that is not an exaggeration. Besides the flares, the camera is so shaky at times in 13 Hours that it makes The Blair Witch Project look like it was shot by a world-class cinematographer. The film will literally make you nauseous at times while the security team fights it out with the rebel Libyan forces. Add in the choppy editing style and you have a film that is physically hard to watch.
After one watches 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, you could assume that Michael Bay saw American Sniper and Lone Survivor and thought “I could make a movie like that”. Actually Mr. Bay, you can’t. The director recycles shots from his past films including a mortar drop that is the exact same bomb shot from Pearl Harbor. There’s so much bad filmmaking going on in 13 Hours including Bay’s insistence on adding his own brand of annoying humor, that it’s hard to keep up with all the film’s flaws. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi may be the best film Michael Bay has directed in years, but considering his past work. It’s nothing to be proud of.
Overall, I give 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi 1.75 out of 4 stars.