“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is an incredible true story of heroism by the soldiers located overseas in order to keep us safe at home. The film dramatizes the events in Libya that resulted in six of our men being severely outnumbered and fighting for their lives, as well as the lives of the noncombatant workers trapped inside of the facility. It remains surprisingly neutral from a political standpoint, though you can't help but think about the Congressional hearings as you watch. I think that it’s an important film for both sides of the political fence as it humanizes the names that were debated at these hearings and helps to remind us that these were people with families. And yet, this is also the film’s biggest failure as we don’t get to know the characters very well. Over the course of two and a half hours, we learn some background information about the soldiers but their interactions amongst themselves are so limited that we barely even know their names. The end credits give the standard "where are they now" summary and I spent most of the time trying to figure out which guy was which. It also doesn’t help that the cast is made up of John Krasinski and a bunch of guys with beards that all look the same. Speaking of Krasinski, he has an amazing emotional moment that shows that he is capable of more than the comedy that he perfected on “The Office.” The film reads more like a documentary than as an action drama and that’s probably why I was left feeling undereducated about the men at the center of this conflict. It does do a good job about helping us to understand the rationale behind their tactics like shutting off interior lights and preventing the enemy from flanking. I'm glad that this film was acknowledged with an Oscar nomination for Best Sound Mixing. The extensive battle sequences are tied together by the realistic explosions and gunshots but we can still easily comprehend the dialogue. The visuals get so chaotic at points that this truly is a story told through sound. “13 Hours” isn’t the best war film that I’ve seen in the past few years but it properly pays tribute to the men that put their lives on the line every day and helps us to better understand what they endure in a hostile environment.
[Pictured: Krasinski taps into some powerful emotions in order to be the driving force of this film]