I think it’s safe to assume that we all know who Michael Bay is. As the director of the Transformers films, Bay has earned a reputation for huge explosions and not-so-subtle ad placements. I mean, we even had a “Mountain Dew” Transformer. Think about that.
Needless to say, his work isn’t necessarily the most liked. However, his bad reputation fades away and falls to the wayside in his new film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The film is based on Mitchell Zuckoff’s book and follows the true story of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the bravery of a handful of soldiers that fought to protect American lives.
John Krasinski, best known for his work in The Office, stars as the fictional character Jack Silva, one of the soldiers stationed in Benghazi. In a video interview with Collider, Krasinski describes the process of working with the surviving members of that response team and getting to the truth of the events of that night. As opposed to the usual “based on a true story” gimmick that other films rely on, Bay goes directly to the soldiers that survived to tell their story (the opening credits read “This is a true story“).
Despite being a war film, 13 Hours contains very human stories within it. The reality facing many soldiers is one where their families are left behind and their lives are forever changed by war. Tyrone Woods, Kris Paronto, Dave Benton, John Tiegen, and Mark Geist grapple with the mental burdens that come with being a soldier. Is there a life outside of war for me? Can I just live a normal life? These are the kinds of things that add an emotional depth to the film.
And hey, the action is pretty great in 13 Hours too. Michael Bay does some amazing camera work that really shows the brutality of warfare and that does mean some gruesome scenes. Bay also manages to capture the both sides of the conflict, making it a point to show the audience that not all Muslims are bad. One scene shows a young man running alongside the soldiers with his own assault rifle, proclaiming that he’s joining them to fight for his country. After a casualty-heavy gunfight, another scene shows a group of Muslim women running to the bodies of the loved ones. Though Bay could have easily made a film that glorified American exploits, he consciously chooses to show the impact of war on both sides.
Though initially skeptical, I must say that I walked away extremely satisfied with 13 Hours. Bay handles this war film with a respect and care that transcends his reputation and work on other projects. Say what you will about his other films, Bay did a great job with this film.
What did you think of 13 Hours?