I belong to a local social group called the Movie Bears. We get together once or twice a month and do dinner and a movie. It is a nice way to meet other bears in the area for some low impact fun and socializing.
The holidays made it difficult to get together. Our January meeting was the first one in over two months. The movie that we went to see was 13 hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The trailers showed plenty of explosions, gun battles, and hot bearded men which made it a good choice for a movie bears night.
My only concern going into the movie is that it was going to be heavy handed political piece about Benghazi. I was pleasantly surprised to find 13 Hours was not about the politics behind the Benghazi attacks.
I am not going to go into the actual history of what happened at Benghazi. you can Google it and pick the news source that you prefer. This movie takes the tack of giving the perspective of six contract operators employed by the CIA. The movie does a good job of giving the audience a connection to these men. Each one is introduced and given a depth that one doers not expect from a movie that is focused on highly trained military operatives. Sure, there is still the ultra masculine camaraderie that is a hallmark of this sort of film. The flip side is that it takes the time to illustrate the human element of each man.
In particular, there is a moment when Jack, played by John Krasinski, is being briefed by the station chief. The chief notes that Jack, like the other operators, is married but doesn’t wear his wedding ring. The chief wonders why he, and all the operators do this. Jack points out that part of his job is dealing with possible enemies. It is never a good idea to give an enemy another tool that could be used against you. This focus of family is a thread that is weaved throughout the men’s interactions throughout the movie and connect the audience to these characters.
13 hours is a good movie with some problems. It is an action thriller that delivers what one expects from this genre. There are plenty of good fight scenes and tense interactions between characters as things go south. My concern was that the movie would have difficulty maintaining the tension when the ending is well known. This is not the case. The connection to the characters that the movie creates draws you in and allows you to just be in the moment and the tension is right there. This is possible because Krasinski, Fumua, Dale, and the others performances are all solid. What could have been easily very stereotypical performances are given a depth which was nice to see.
The problem arises from the movies heavy handed message of elitism. throughout the movie, the six operators are portrayed as the long-suffering parental types. Each has been through similar circumstances and knows how the enemy works and is trying their best to protect their charges. The CIA operatives are portrayed as viewing these men as nothing more than attack dogs to be let off the leash sparingly. There is one scene where the leader of the Six is trying to convince to allow the and his men to do something. The chief points around the room citing degrees from places like MIT and Harvard and that maybe the thinking should be left to those better prepared for it. The movie hammers home that this elitism is what costs so much life in the end without ever seeing that this perspective is just as elitist.
I would give 13 Hours two bear paws out of four. Definitely worth seeing as a matinee viewing but does not require extra viewing.