13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

I was a little torn about this one: it stars my beloved John Krasinski, but it’s directed by my arch enemy, Michael Bay. When I saw the trailers in theatres, it wasn’t possible to sit through the two minutes of footage without smirking – yet another opportunity for Bay to wave his proud American flag. Except it’s impossible to feel sympathy for anyone in this movie, since the Americans weren’t supposed to be there in the first place. They’re secret soldiers for a reason – as in, shhh, don’t tell the UN. I passed on the movie while it was in theatres but when I attempted to track it down now that it’s available to rent, images.jpgthe best I could describe it was “that stupid war movie with Chris Pratt.” Because in my mind I’d confused two of my most adored chubby funny guys on TV-turned ripped movie stars. Also: Chris Pratt starred in Zero Dark Thirty. Different war, same shit. And Michael Bay is not Kathryn Bigelow.

The first thing I noticed about this movie is that everybody has a beard. Everybody has a beard! Michael Bay has literally done his casting by watching whatever television shows were available on this in-flight menu (lazily casting a couple from The Office – both of Pam’s beaus!): 24, Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie. Then he told all his handsome-but-not-too-handsome TV stars to grow beards. Must be bearded.

John Krasinski plays a contractor – he’s not actually a soldier because of course the Americans aren’t really supposed to be there, it isn’t really an embassy, so they don’t rate real military. They’re hired guns, and they’re resented by the officials they’ve been hired to babysit.

It’s a Michael Bay movie, so you know it’s bloated. It’s bloated with glossy, whispery flashback scenes. It’s bloated with homoerotic, soft porn shots of sweaty muscles getting worked out. It’s exactly the kind of movie where a dude will fight a holy war in shorts and think nothing of it. Where all the characters in Krasinski’s periphery are cardboard cut-outs until Michael Bay brilliantly inserts one piddly little scene in which every single one of them krasinski2-xlargesimultaneously Skype their families so that we know they have loved ones at home and are not as expendable as they feel. They’re the same loved ones these guys abandoned to fight a war that isn’t theirs, that they don’t even understand, in a country they don’t care about, unable to distinguish bad guys from good, and won’t be rewarded for either way. It’s real uplifting!

It’s actually fairly mature and restrained for a Michael Bay movie. You would only get medium-belligerent drunk making a drinking game out of spotting crisp American flags waving around in a light breeze. Don’t worry, his patriotism is alive and erect as ever; he’s an apologist for this shitstorm if nothing else. And of course there’s no character development; its excessive 144 minutes are devoted to packing in as many explosions as possible – they still give Mikey a chubby after all this time. He never misses an opportunity to show us a dead body or a dangling limb. He lives for this stuff. Krasinski is woefully out of place, too good for his surroundings. Sticks out like a sore trigger finger. Hopefully he’s learned a lesson, and bought a ridiculously nice car with the pay cheque.

13 Hours is better than all the Transformers movies combined, which isn’t saying nearly enough. There’s still more merit in the first 5 minutes, or any 5 minutes of The Hurt Locker, than in the entire 2.5 hours of this piece of glorious war-porn Americana. God bless Michael Bay.

31 thoughts on “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

  1. mikeladano

    Dear Jay,
    I am interested in forming a Michael Bay support group. With his new Transformers movie announced and the awful details beginning to surface, I don’t know if I can survive another year of Bay ruining my favourite toy franchise beyond recognition.

    What do you say? Are you in?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Carrie Rubin

    Another wonderfully written review–your reviews are sometimes more fun to read than watching the actual movies! Sounds like that’s the case with this one. I never saw it. Film-buff son laughed when I told him I might like to (he feels the same way about Michael Bay films as you do). Looks like I didn’t miss out on much.


  3. calensariel

    I honestly didn’t think I’d warm up to this. Interestingly something you just mentioned was the reason I sat up and took notice. You said Krasinski was out of place in it. Our best friends’ son was in Iraq for two tours and he went back as a contractor. That was Greg. He was so out of place. Not that he saw anything like that during his “contracting days” (for which he was paid an obscene amount of money so they could pay off his lawyer wife’s school loans). But he’d been wounded by an IED during his last tour and given the purple heart. I just kept seeing Greg in that role all the way through it. It made it personal for me. I reacted differently to it than I thought I would.


    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, I can see why you would.
      And yes, they do make a lot of money. It’s a big risk and I can’t imagine how tough it is to be away from your family, so the pay had better reflect that. But it’s still a scary thing, and if he’d already been wounded, well…that guy’s got guts.


  4. Khalid Rafi

    I think its the best thing Michael Bay has done in some time, though that is no compliment. But I actually found it to be pretty watchable despite the bloated runtime and overdone action sequences. Also thought the performances were pretty effective which they had to get right considering how interchangeable Krasinski and his boys were


  5. BroadBlogs

    There is a lot I don’t understand about what happened over there. But I generally hate films with lots of explosions, especially long ones. So I might see it and I might not.


  6. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy

    Based on the number of times DirecTV is advertising this movie on the channels I watch, I’m pretty sure they should just end them with “Watch the movie or we kill a kitten.” Still haven’t made me want to watch it, though if they went with the kitten tactic, I would probably watch.


  7. ninvoid99

    Michael Bay is evil. He is the Donald Trump of cinema. Bloated, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and false patriotism. I would rather jump off a cliff to my death than see Bay’s bullshit. I would rather be sodomized, raped, and beaten by diseased-ridden men than see a frame of his bullshit. I’m serious about this. I would rather eat a mountain of shit than see his films.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Brittani

    When did John Krasinski get so hot? I haven’t seen this. I never planned to but after hearing Krasinski talk about it on Maher, he was so passionate that I think I might check out the DVD some day.


  9. Pingback: Oscar Nominations 2017 | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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