Jun 10, 2016

13 Hours : The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi | The corny movie review by Navin

There are 5 things Americans are really good at -
  1. Cross-continental car chases
  2. Shooting the sh*t out of stuff/people
  3. The All American Cheeseburger
  4. Invading countries, and finally,
  5. Making blockbuster movies about the wars they've fought in the countries they invaded.
Enter '13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi'
Based on the book by Mitchell Zuckoff's '13 Hours', this is not an average Michael Bay movie. But he has taken a story that had a lot of potential and by playing it too safe, he stripped it of glory.

13 Hours is based on the story of a siege of the American mission by Islamic terrorists and the battle to defend a top secret CIA compound within Libya. 
Michael Bay's movies are always a lot of noise with things flying into you, bullets whizzing past, cars (tanks/random vehicles) exploding, limbs being torn apart, heads being splattered, fire and all-round anarchy.
But 13 Hours failed my expectations out of a Bay movie.
American soldiers, both the official and the covert ones, are perhaps the most ruthless 'killing machines' today. They are unstoppable, and like superswarms can overrun and out-last their enemy and for this reason the American soldier is feared and hated with a vengence.
Over the years, we have seen similar movies getting better with a lot of technical details in place. Many of the movies try and stay close to the truth, but Bay movies tend to do better in India because it resembles a very expensive Bollywood movie. 13 Hours have enough edge of the seat moments to keep you hooked until the very end.

One thing I found extraordinary was how Bay never really developed any of the characters
and for a movie like this, you need to have a 'favorite' guy/gal you can identify and feel sorry for. Any attempts to create a backstory feels sloppy and contrived. 
The movie starts with a lot of promise and you begin to mentally prepare yourself to watch the finest army in the world on celluloid. But the opening scene at the airport and then the standoff at the blockade frittles it all away. I yawned in disappointment. 
I found some technical errors in the movie completely unbelieveable. Like one of the things most people (especially in the armed forces) are taught is to stay close to the ground and to stay together in the event of a fire. Second, I wonder why they chose to 'burn' diesel instead of petrol, which would have been easier to obtain. 
Security teams/units in countries like this are normally accompanied by a translator and are pretty adept at identifying friendlies versus the hostiles. The 'soldiers' in 13 Hours doesn't seem to subscribe to this. 
There are a couple of loose ends and you come away without a closure.

Would I recommend it?
I like Bay's movies for its action and if you do as well, you won't be utterly disappointed. There is plenty to drool over. 
But this isn't going to get the folks at the Academy too excited. This movie doesn't have the soul of a Black Hawk Down (inspite of the reference) and is far from a Hurt Locker. 
I haven't read the book but I doubt if it did justice to it and I don't think it is a movie you'll see in a collector's edition DVD anytime soon.

My rating: 5

What does the rating mean? 
0-4  : Not worth your presence in the same zip code as the TV/Theater.
5-7  : Err... the movie is pretty, but it's definitely missing something. A storyline, that is.
8-10: 'Drop-the-dishes, stop-the-sex, jaw-dropping, that-is-incredible' 2 hours of movie experience
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