By Laurie Coker
In director Michael Bay’s latest film, 13 Hours, Chuck Hogan’s screenplay, based on a book by Mitchell Zuckoff, makes for vivid telling of the events that transpired on that critical night, when one American Ambassador and three other Americans were mercilessly killed in an attack on two American facilities on September 11, 2012. In a mere thirteen hours, military and ex-military (secret soldiers), contracted soldiers worked tirelessly to put an end to the gory seize. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken political grief for this event, and while there is no mention of names, the film does assert that no one, except for a small group of soldiers, ever came to the aid of those in danger. An unarmed drone, an eye-in-the-sky, was the only air support ever and delays and miscommunication played against the people so desperate to survive. The poignant and intense representation, will keep this film in mind and relevant as we move throughout the year in movies.
John Krasinski, who takes lead here, offers a extraordinary performance, impressively touching, strong and noteworthy. The ensemble cast, including James Badge Dale, David Giuntoli, Toby Stephens, and a host of other fantastic and familiar faces mesh and relate natural and ideally, creating believable, human characters rich and full of depth. We see a close up and extremely personal side of the events told to us only by the press. Bay seems to instinctively know where to embed his audience into the center of the action and when to show it the people enmeshed in this appalling series of events.
The battles sequences, bombs exploding, bodies being torn apart by bullets, fire and billowing smoke and the profound, palpable tension in the characters faces and actions make for unwitting teeth clenching and for some covered eyes. Many aspects are just plain difficult to watch. Bay draws his audience directly into the fray and connects it to the people involved, the panic they must have endured and the sheer terror of the hours that surely must have felt like days. Bay’s entirely riveting, two and a half hour run-time flashes by.
I find much to praised about Bay and crew’s gripping version of the events of 11 September 2012. Rated R, 13 Hours is perhaps one of the best films in its genre – gritty, real, human and frightening. While Bay chooses to make note of the aloneness and isolation of the situation, rather than play on who allowed this event to transpire the way it did for as long as it did, connecting his viewers closely the real people trapped and fighting in the appalling circumstances that took place on that horrific day and night – stopping only after nearly insurmountable odds, one character even alluding to similarity of their odds and that of those who fought at the Alamo. I am offering up an A+ for 13 Hours.