Published Jan 15, 2016Compared to the rest of director Michael Bay's testosterone-fuelled filmography, his latest movie, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, may seem like a bit of a departure. Gone, for the most part, are the dramatic slow-motion scenes, gratuitous beefcakery and attempts at "'Merica!" patriotism that we've come to expect from the blockbuster director. There's even a bit of — dare I say it? — subtlety. Turns out that's a bad thing: While the film world and practically everyone else loves to make fun of Bay's bombastic movies, at least he had his own somewhat distinct style.
13 Hours, on the other hand, could have come from any other action director. Based on the true story of an American security team who fought tooth and nail to defend a diplomatic compound in Benghazi from a massive terrorist attack on the anniversary of September 11th, the film spends little time on character development and instead opts to show bullets tear through the flesh of wave after wave of Libyans for what feels like three-quarters of the movie.
Part of that is to be expected. As Pablo Schreiber's character Tanto puts it in the film, this was 2012's answer to the Alamo. But while Bay himself would probably argue that the non-stop violence is meant to fully submerse the viewer in the war at hand, make no mistake: this movie is mind-numbing jingoism, in the worst possible way.
A month before the movie's release, perhaps the only interesting thing that came out about its about production was just how absolutely jacked comedic actor John Krasinski got to play the role of contracted solider Jack Silva. Judging by the movie's poster, he should be the star of the film, but he ultimately plays second fiddle to James Badge Dale's character Tyrone Woods. At first glance, it seemed like Krasinski was being set up to be the next Chris Pratt: a loveable goof with a heart of gold and a chest of steel to boot.
Sadly, 13 Hours is a missed opportunity, as Krasinski is given little screen time that doesn't involve running around with an automatic weapon and is rarely able to show off his real range. The characters and actors are so interchangeable, it'll probably take over half the movie to realize David Denman is one of the film's stars, a fun fact for fans of The Office and the Jim-Pam-Roy love triangle, but even more evidence of how little anybody matters who's not getting torn to shreds in this movie. (Paramount Pictures)