Michael Bay does it again. Terrific ensemble acting. Great sound track and incredible cinematography which pulls you into the action and does not let you go. Six men become heroes in front of your eyes. A true story, as we all know, which appears to be told authentically. While there are conflicting stories of what actually happened at Benghazi, 13 Hours rings with an in your face sense of truth. The script was written under advisement of the soldiers who were there. No superstar for Michael Bay because as producer and director of this tragic story he becomes the star. Once more. Even his mother told him not to direct. "Why the headache," she said. Still he pulls out of the chaos of Benghazi a meaningful rendition of what could actually have happened.
The six men are familiar faces mostly from TV land and that provides an intimacy with their characters which a mega star would destroy. This is an oh-I-know- him-from -that series-yadayadayada and so you feel closer to Benghazi than you would if Tom Cruise were one of these Navy Seals. His stardom would have created an imbalance in the rhythm of this film which is about the intimacy of war as Bay brings you to the firing line. You can almost smell the bullets and grenades. It has that kind of appeal. Visceral. I was totally prepared to walk out as I do not like to watch war films. I would not see American Sniper or read Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, but Bay hooked me from the get go. Much of the initial allure is the exotic landscape of Libya. You know Bay is setting you up by showing a magnificent mansion in the dessert with a swimming pool that would impress Mark Spitz and romantic palm trees that you know eventually will be blown to smithereens, but because of the lush allure your emotions stay a little longer and then the first ambush grabs you by the jugular and you are glued to your seat though you squirm a little. There is a slight problem in that there are three big attacks and a minor skirmish in the beginning, but Bay sets these up in a manipulative manner so that each one becomes a kind of warning of the bigger and badder attack. You know he is doing this to you. You may be angry cause you are onto his manipulation and resent it, but still you can't walk out because you want to know what is going to happen and this is what Bay is so good at. He makes you care-- even though you don't want to. And so I sat through the entire battle and when I left, I felt as though I had been in one myself , but it was a good feeling which I did not regret as the six men I had met had been heroes and I would not have known about them unless I had seen this film. Sad as it is, there is a sense of triumph because though four men are murdered, the film states 26 lived thanks to these six Navy Seals.
The six brave soldiers are portrayed by: John Krasinski (the Office) who portray Jack Silva, Pablo Schreiver as Kris Paronto (Orange is the New Black), James Badge Dale (24) as Tyrone Woods, David Denman (Parenthood) as DaveBenton, Dominic Fumusa (Nurse Jackie) as John Tiegen, Max Martini (Revenge) as Mark Geist. Matt Letscher (Castle) portrays Ambassador Stevens who is killed by smoke inhalation. Foreign Services Management Office Sean Smith is played by Christopher Dingli (Doctors). CIA contractors Tyrone Woods who is portrayed by Tobey Stephens (Vexed) and Glenn Doherty also were murdered. The splendid actors in this film have been credited with one of their works, but they are what is known as 'working actors' whose large body of work is known, but name fame has eluded them. For their selection and recognition Michael Bay should be lauded.
A sinister element was the use of hand signals to distinguish if an Arab/Muslim was a good guy or a bad guy. As 13 Hours progresses, it is revealed that the bad guys know the secret hand signal and are sabotaging everyone's safety and no one can be trusted and no one is safe.
Benghazi casualties could have been worse. According to this film the CIA had been warned about an eminent attack,but someone shredded this warning and Benghazi was blind sided by Islamic terrorists. Today it is an Isis stronghold. Minimal finger pointing is a part of Chuck Hogan's screenplay from the book by Mitchell Zuckoff. Instead understanding is attempted out of bloody chaos. For this attempt and for, sadly so, being an entertaining journey, 13 Hours is a must see.