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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Malta, Morocco, USA

2016

Rated R • 2h 24m

Director Michael Bay

Starring James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber

Genre Action, History, Thriller

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An American Ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

80

New York Daily News by

Sure, Bay indulges some signature cinematic fetishes. But he shows restraint with the slowed-down, sexed-up shots. War is gritty here, not glamorous. Result: characters, stakes and emotions feel authentic — all the more so thanks to terrific actors including James Badge Dale and Pablo Schreiber as actual ex-military men and family men who battled terrorists.
58

The A.V. Club by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

Packed with misfiring grenade launchers, blue lens flares, and Mercedes armored cars, 13 Hours makes the best case for Bay as a toy-box aesthete with an abstract sense of motion and color—and the best case against him as an incoherent jingoism fetishist.
45

TheWrap by Inkoo Kang

In terms of anything that has to do with characterization, Chuck Hogan‘s script is punishingly rote. But as bombastic, shoot-‘em-up spectacle, 13 Hours is a visceral, well-paced and often beautiful action-thriller.
50

Slant Magazine by Jake Cole

Of course, when the action gets underway, Bay unleashes that flashy id of his, and all of his flaws as a titan of blockbuster filmmaking come to the fore.
20

The Guardian by Jordan Hoffman

Abhorrent politics aside, it’s also a terrible movie. The dialogue is atrocious, the performances rote. One could make the case that its incoherence is a grand meta-narrative statement about the fluidity of combat, but I don’t think that’s the case.
50

Variety by Justin Chang

It’s a nail-biter and a head-scratcher rolled into one: The mind may initially race to keep up with logistics, but eventually one acknowledges the futility of trying to make sense of a situation that Bay himself hasn’t managed to clarify.
50

Austin Chronicle by Marc Savlov

A weird mix of pseudo-jingoism and Bay’s usual bombastic firepower, 13 Hours ends up being a straight-up war film without an actual war in it.
58

The Playlist by Russ Fischer

Bay's overwrought tendencies simultaneously lead to the film's most compelling sequences of tense, bloody battle even as they forestall the more nuanced storytelling that would be crucial to truly unpacking the attacks. Bay may see the film as a cry of truth; muffled by his own predilections it's only a whisper.
60

The Hollywood Reporter by Todd McCarthy

To use what, under the circumstances, is a far too convenient metaphor, Bay is interested in accelerating from zero to 100 as quickly as possible and then maintaining speed, rather than skillfully shifting gears and adjusting speeds based on curves, hills and road conditions. In this case, he gets you there, but you know the ride could have been a lot more varied and nuanced.

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