Review of "13 Hours"

Brian Gongol

Detailed review


I'm always suspicious of real-life events that are dramatized for the screen. And considering that "13 Hours" takes on the 2012 attacks on the American facilities in Benghazi, there's a lot that could be mis-portrayed or hyped up for shock value. Unsurprisingly, the CIA takes issue with parts of the narrative that don't portray it favorably. There's probably no way to avoid a dispute over the narrative, but taking that into account, the script is intense. It intermixes suspense with high-adrenaline violence and mercifully goes relatively easy on the cliche (though the writers couldn't entirely resist the urge to give the central characters some action-hero quips). One other thing: There are too many secondary characters introduced into the narrative, which makes it hard for them to fully develop any of the individual characters. Credit is deserved for scenes late in the film that point out that the situation isn't really over.


Generally solid. Despite ample opportunity to do so, very few moments seemed over-the-top. Not much about the movie is subtle, but the acting was surprisingly restrained for a Michael Bay film.

Production value

A lot of the camera work relies on first-person, fog-of-war-type shots that insert the viewer into the action, but that approach can be overwhelming in the midst of high-adrenaline scenes. The primary sets were convincing and the occasional references to maps and surveillance-drone-style footage were helpful in keeping perspective.

Reminiscent of

"Flags of Our Fathers"

One-sentence summary

Prepare to leave with a headache induced by long stretches of adrenaline and with a hostile attitude about how and why the main characters were left in impossibly dire circumstances.