Film purists may loathe him – but Michael Bay delivers arguably his best film since 2007’s Transformers.
His big-budget blockbusters have always made money, so with this below-the-radar ‘pet project’ – a bit like he did with 2013’s ho-hum Pain and Gain – he at least got to flex his directing muscles with something a bit different.
His direction may be laden with stereotypes, always contain a cliché-ridden script, and usually have the subtlety of a ‘sledgehammer’ – but this loosely-based-on-a-true-story war drama is arguably up there with his better (albeit earlier career) efforts like Bad Boys, The Rock and Armageddon.
After an American Ambassador (Matt Lescher) is attacked in a make-shift compound by a rogue group in a post-Gaddafi Libya on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, six ex-army and Navy SEAL hired-security guns – the most recognisable being The US Office’s John Krasinski, Iron Man 3’s James Badge Dale and Pacific Rim’s Max Martini – risk it all to save a top secret US-held Benghazi complex against all odds, and try to make sense out of the ensuing chaos.
And in Bay’s defence, what starts out as generic Alamo-esque fodder does evolve into a very watchable nearly two-and-a-half hours, that by the end conveys a nice bit of emotion and notable action set-pieces – making it hover into the comparable territory of a Black Hawk Down.
Yep, as usual for a Bay film it does have the cringeworthy one-liners – “Welcome to Club Med” etc – Pro-American and family sentiment, and his typical pan-and-scan camerawork, but it just about has more rights than wrongs to make this a pleasantly minor surprise.
By the end, 13 Hours actually shows a touch of heart that made Bay’s aforementioned early CV entries so mindlessly enjoyable (Bad Boys is still one of my favourite action-comedies of all-time) – and twenty years ago tagged him as one of Hollywood’s most promising young directors.
And this is still well worth a couple of hours of your time . . . just don’t expect too much movie finesse.
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Gavin Miller[youtube id=”4CJBuUwd0Os” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Toby Stephens, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Alexia Barlier, David Costabile, Freddie Stroma & Matt Letscher
Running Time: 2 Hrs 24 Mins
Director: Michael Bay