13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

On VOD:
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.  Rating:  3 (out of 5).  An American Ambassador is killed in Libya during an attack at a U.S. compound, and the security team tries to make sense of what happened. Catch the film on VOD starting Tuesday, June 7. According to the Washington Post, “As an action film, it is intense and gripping. As a drama, it is bombastic and unsubtle.”

Starring: Alexia Barlier, David Costabile, David Denman, James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber, Toby Stephens
Director: Michael Bay
Rating: R
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller, War

 

REVIEWS

San Francisco Chronicle thinks, “It’s long, downright dispiriting, enjoyable only sometimes, and yet there’s a feeling of authenticity. It’s neither bad nor good, but interesting. It might improve with age.”

Philadelphia Inquirer gives the film 2.5 out of 4 stars, and further notes, “13 Hours, by its very subject matter, can’t help but tap into the confluent veins of politics and patriotism.”

Variety finds, “It’s a nail-biter and a head-scratcher rolled into one: The mind may initially race to keep up with logistics, but eventually one acknowledges the futility of trying to make sense of a situation that Bay himself hasn’t managed to clarify.”

Boston Globe calls it “A straight-up combat film. Not a very good combat film — it wallows in genre clichés and makes a hash of its action scenes — but one that does get you to empathize with its grunts, the “secret soldiers” of the title.”

According to Washington Post, “As an action film, it is intense and gripping. As a drama, it is bombastic and unsubtle.”

New York Daily News gives the film 4 out of 5 stars, and further notes, “Sure, Bay indulges some signature cinematic fetishes. But he shows restraint with the slowed-down, sexed-up shots. War is gritty here, not glamorous. Result: characters, stakes and emotions feel authentic — all the more so thanks to terrific actors including James Badge Dale and Pablo Schreiber as actual ex-military men and family men who battled terrorists.”

The Hollywood Reporter thinks, “To use what, under the circumstances, is a far too convenient metaphor, Bay is interested in accelerating from zero to 100 as quickly as possible and then maintaining speed, rather than skillfully shifting gears and adjusting speeds based on curves, hills and road conditions. In this case, he gets you there, but you know the ride could have been a lot more varied and nuanced.”

The New York Times finds, “The movie is a pummeling slog — 45 minutes of setup and an eternity of relentless combat.”

USA Today says, “After a string of iffy Transformers movies, Bay reminds that he can do a much better action movie with humans than alien robots: 13 Hours is his best work in the genre since his 1990s hits Bad Boys and The Rock.”

Entertainment Weekly gives the film a C+ rating, and further writes, “13 Hours is a history lesson as Call of Duty DLC expansion pack. There’s a real story of American heroism somewhere in here, but it’s diluted by Bay’s worst tendencies.”

New York Magazine (Vulture) thinks, “The battle scenes are loud and jangly and dissonant enough to unnerve you — they work. But I’d like to see a congressional committee grill Bay and screenwriter Chuck Hogan about what’s going on half the time.”

According to Wall Street Journal, “The movie is a relentlessly intense, grotesquely overblown and numbingly long account of extraordinary heroism on the part of six American security operators in the midst of horrific chaos.”

Chicago Sun-Times gives the film 3 out of 4 stars, and further notes, “This is no “Zero Dark Thirty” or “The Hurt Locker.” Lacking in nuance and occasionally plagued by corny dialogue, “13 Hours” is nonetheless a well-photographed, visceral action film, and a sincere and fitting tribute to those secret soldiers.”

Los Angeles Times says, “This action facility, however, is not enough to make “13 Hours” more than sporadically successful, in part because, at 2 hours and 24 minutes, the film is too long for its own good and risks feelings of repetition and exhaustion.”

Chicago Tribune finds, “Some of this is slick and enjoyable in what I’d characterize as the wrong way, the painlessly bloody, box-office-friendly way.”

New York Post observes, “Still, if 13 Hours lacks the gravitas of “American Sniper,” it’s powerful stuff. Bay’s goal is to put you right in these men’s boots, to feel the heat, the fear, the fatigue, the weight of the weapons and the web of camaraderie.”

Christian Science Monitor gives the film a B- rating, and further notes, ““13 Hours” is better than the “Transformers” movies and “Pearl Harbor” but, after seeing it, the only question I came away with is, Will this movie hurt Hillary Clinton?”

Arizona Republic writes, “It’s when bullets fly that Bay is at his best. He stages the battles well, and builds tension effectively and at times inventively.”

Tampa Bay Times thinks, “13 Hours is another flag-wrapped paean to true-life Alamo heroism in the vein of Lone Survivor, hoping for ticket sales like American Sniper. Neither of those movies carry the political burden of 13 Hours, and Bay isn’t one to channel it.”

Austin Chronicle finds, “A weird mix of pseudo-jingoism and Bay’s usual bombastic firepower, 13 Hours ends up being a straight-up war film without an actual war in it.”

The Globe and Mail notes, “Bay has attempted to carefully characterize and humanize each member of the security force, and Krasinski, Dale and Schreiber are largely successful at creating personable fighters.”

The Guardian writes, “Abhorrent politics aside, it’s also a terrible movie. The dialogue is atrocious, the performances rote. One could make the case that its incoherence is a grand meta-narrative statement about the fluidity of combat, but I don’t think that’s the case.”

Screen International says, “Intense battle action and rousing heroics just about make up for the dramatic shortcomings of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”

Consequence of Sound thinks, “Shots are short, oddly made, and shoddily smashed together. There’s no spatial continuity, let alone consistency in time of day, or even a care for any kind of visual coherence. 13 Hours is just chaos. It’s unwatchable, unlikable, and unworthy of respect.”

Rolling Stone finds, “Is there an audience for this? Sadly, yes. There’s nothing wrong with a movie that cheers American heroes. But this one does so by reducing everything else to cardboard.”

Movie Nation writes, “As a brutal and gory combat picture with historical underpinnings, these “Secret Soldiers” acquit themselves heroically. The action is visceral and intense.”

ReelViews gives the film 3 stars, and further notes, “The movie is imperfect and overlong but it’s never boring.”

The Verge thinks, “[Bay’s] tremendous sentimentality is a major issue, bogging down his efforts at realism in flag-waving, tear-jerking scenes that try to make every heartfelt emotion land with mortar-fire force.”

According to Slate, “The result is messy, violent, and a sad commentary on the state of our world. The response to the film has already been so polarized and predetermined that we’re probably going to be talking about it for much longer than we should. In that sense, 13 Hours isn’t a movie about Benghazi. 13 Hours is Benghazi.”

A.V. Club gives the movie a C+ rating, and further writes, “Packed with misfiring grenade launchers, blue lens flares, and Mercedes armored cars, 13 Hours makes the best case for Bay as a toy-box aesthete with an abstract sense of motion and color—and the best case against him as an incoherent jingoism fetishist.”

RogerEbert.com says, “As an action movie and as a historical document, it is a bombastic and wholly inauthentic mess that displays precious little interest in the men whose actions and sacrifices it purports to honor.”

TheWrap thinks, “In terms of anything that has to do with characterization, Chuck Hogan‘s script is punishingly rote. But as bombastic, shoot-‘em-up spectacle, 13 Hours is a visceral, well-paced and often beautiful action-thriller.”

IndieWire (The Playlist) gives the film a C+ rating, and further notes, “Bay’s overwrought tendencies simultaneously lead to the film’s most compelling sequences of tense, bloody battle even as they forestall the more nuanced storytelling that would be crucial to truly unpacking the attacks. Bay may see the film as a cry of truth; muffled by his own predilections it’s only a whisper.”

Slant Magazine finds, “Of course, when the action gets underway, Bay unleashes that flashy id of his, and all of his flaws as a titan of blockbuster filmmaking come to the fore.”

Time Out New York gives the movie 3 out of 5 stars, and further notes, “A slimy, indecisive CIA chief (David Costabile) makes the deepest impression. The final word on this incident will require a more thoughtful filmmaker. But hopefully, that artist will possess at least half of Bay’s punishing, peerless craft.”

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