Film review: 13 HOURS – THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI (15)

13 Hours.
13 Hours.
0
Have your say

SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: JOHN KRASINSKI, JAMES BADGE DALE, MAX MARTINI, TOBY STEPHENS, PABLO SCHREIBER, DAVID DENMAN, DOMINIC FUMUSA, ALEXIA BARLIER, DAVID COSTABILE, FREDDIE STROMA & MATT LETSCHER

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 24 MINS

DIRECTOR: MICHAEL BAY

Film purists may loathe him – but Michael Bay delivers arguably his best film since 2007’s Transformers.

His big-budget blockbusters have always made money, so with this below-the-radar ‘pet project’ – a bit like he did with 2013’s ho-hum Pain and Gain – he at least got to flex his directing muscles with something a bit different.

His direction may be laden with stereotypes, always contain a cliché-ridden script, and usually have the subtlety of a ‘sledgehammer’ – but this loosely-based-on-a-true-story war drama is arguably up there with his better (albeit earlier career) efforts like Bad Boys, The Rock and Armageddon.

After an American Ambassador (Matt Lescher) is attacked in a make-shift compound by a rogue group in a post-Gaddafi Libya on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, six ex-army and Navy SEAL hired-security guns – the most recognisable being The US Office’s John Krasinski, Iron Man 3’s James Badge Dale and Pacific Rim’s Max Martini – risk it all to save a top secret US-held Benghazi complex against all odds, and try to make sense out of the ensuing chaos.

And in Bay’s defence, what starts out as generic Alamo-esque fodder does evolve into a very watchable nearly two-and-a-half hours, that by the end conveys a nice bit of emotion and notable action set-pieces – making it hover into the comparable territory of a Black Hawk Down. Yep, as usual for a Bay film it does have the cringeworthy one-liners – “Welcome to Club Med” etc – Pro-American and family sentiment, and his typical pan-and-scan camerawork, but it just about has more rights than wrongs to make this a pleasantly minor surprise.

By the end, 13 Hours actually shows a touch of heart that made Bay’s aforementioned early CV entries so mindlessly enjoyable (Bad Boys is still one of my favourite action-comedies of all-time) – and 20 years ago tagged him as one of Hollywood’s most promising young directors.

And this is still well worth a couple of hours of your time . . . just don’t expect too much movie finesse.

Rating: 3/5 Gavin Miller