13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is the newest Michael Bay film to hit theaters—I’ve heard it called the “Bay-ghazi” film, which makes me chuckle—and it acts as his first trip back to realism in quite a while. After spending a majority of the last decade bringing us a slew of Transformers movies, each snowballing into the loudest form of summer-event chaos, Bay finally slows things down and tells a more human story, though still loud and filled with action. As I write this from a very red area in the state of Indiana, I can tell you that 99.9 percent of Benghazi talk has been about one topic: Hillary. 13 Hours is a Hillary (and agenda) free zone, which makes it much easier to digest. If you’re a news follower then you hear Benghazi buzz almost daily due to an ongoing investigation. And as long as you, the viewer, go in agenda free (it’s going to be impossible for some, let’s face it) then you shouldn’t have a problem leaving the theater satisfied with this side of the story.
To this day the details are still hazy as to why the Benghazi attacks happened. Here’s what’s definite: On September 11, 2012, two different areas of Benghazi acting as shelter for Americans were attacked. One was a makeshift compound to house a visiting ambassador, the other, a secret consulate used by the CIA. 13 Hours follows the six CIA security contractors that were hired to keep the consulate safe. John Krasinski, of NBCs “The Office” fame, stars as former Navy Seal Jack Da Silva. Although he doesn’t act as the leader of these soldiers, he’s definitely the name recognition the studio chose, with the handful of other actors being ones who work regularly, but aren’t well known by the general public. It’s my personal opinion that it would have been a safer bet to go with six well-rounded actors, as opposed to five and one familiar face; I just had a very hard time distancing Kransinski from his “The Office” character, Jim Halpert. Many comedic actors attempt to transition into drama at some point in their lives, I’m just not sure the jump from workplace funny man to bulked-up soldier was the best move in this case. With that said, Krasinski has a few good moments of human drama in which the audience should be able to sympathize.
While the first act of the movie is dedicated to introducing us to the eponymous soldiers, the last two acts are filled with violent explosions and attacks. Unlike most of Bay’s other films, however, there’s an obligation to show such things in order to stay true to the real-life events. In what seems to be a trend lately, 13 Hours runs just short of 2 ½ hours. Though I felt that part of the fat could be trimmed, it still acts as a better way to learn about the events of Benghazi than to sit at home and listen to the same old Hillary talk.