Those were my first words after looking up info for a recently released movie on IMDB, but it wasn’t The Office…or even a comedy for that matter. In the film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldier of Benghazi, John Krasinski (Jim) plays a contractor who is hired to protect a secret CIA base of operations in Benghazi Libya. The movie claims to be based on the ‘actual‘ events in Benghazi, but whether that is an accurate statement or not I cannot verify*; however, the film itself offers a heroic and politically neutral telling of events.
So, first things first. War movies have always been a genre that fascinated me, but not because of the bloodiness, swearing, or brutal, nonstop, violence. What has always been intriguing about the movies are the motivations of the characters: “Why are you here?” or “Why were you willing to give up everything for the man next to you?”. Movies like Black Hawk Down, American Sniper, and others offer insight into what drives men: brotherhood, the need to protect, or a particular value structure. 13 Hours falls somewhat in-between the first two of those motivators previously mentioned. Following the story of contractors paid to protect a CIA complex, the film draws a narrative where men who have no responsibility to put their lives on the line are willing to do so for their country and one another.
While I have never expected much from Michael Bay whenever storytelling is involved, he does an excellent job of balancing the characters in this film. The movie displays the contractor’s desire to protect Americans amidst chaos, while providing flashes to the families back home that are waiting for husbands or fathers to return. This creates a tension between the two worlds: the world of war and the more domestic one back home. The movie American Sniper gave insight into the struggle that the family members left behind in the U.S. go through, and this film, to a lesser degree, also portrays those hardships. It isn’t The Office, or even a comedy, but John Krasinsky proves that he is capable in such serious roles as this film portrays: masterfully balancing the hardened war veteran with the loving husband and father. As the film wears on, you will find yourself rooting for the protagonists to survive, not because they are heroic, selfless, or righteous in their cause -although all those may be true -but because you want them to make it back to their families.
Although 13 Hours might not be classified as a strict war movie by genre, it does carry many of the expected traits. As such, only those who really want to see a war movie probably ought to watch in the theatre. Personally, I found it to be excellent on the big screen, but several parts of the film are Saving Private Ryan-esque in levels of blood and gore; also, given the subject material, swearing is prolific. However, those who enjoy war films will find 13 Hours to be an engaging, emotional, and inspiring film that portrays heroism and a sense of duty that is much absent in most of modern American culture.
*However, given how most films coming out of Hollywood tend to be, the movie is probably not all that accurate