Action, Emotion, but a few Shaky Components



Robbie K here reviewing the latest films to hit the box office. Today’s write up is on the new “true story” war film 13 Hours that looks to be a tribute to soldier heroism. As always it is my job to analyze, study, and grade the movie to help assist you with your viewing selections. Let’s get started.


When you think of war you think of action and sure enough this movie has plenty of riveting moments to rock the auditorium. Although the exciting stuff doesn’t happen until about halfway through the film (thanks to a lot of talking and pokes at how stupid our government can be) the scenes themselves have everything you want in a movie. Bullets fly, extras spasm from fake gunshots, and fiery explosions bombard the screen as chaos unfolds. Being this is a Michael Bay film, the explosions are excessive alongside the pyrotechnics, but fortunately not to the point of a Transformers film. One thing I liked was the realistic feel of the battle, using strategy and position instead of movie magic to destroy the bad guys, although they did seem to have infinite ammo.


While the action is the main part of the story, the movie has a lot of character development to help bring some relevance to the violence. The first half of the movie focuses on building up the tension for the climax, giving us some insight into the backstory and personalities of our heroes. It’s slow, but Bay kept the suspense throughout the film to keep me interested. In addition they even do an excellent job of illustrating the weaknesses of our military and their inability to make decisions. Those with strong political beliefs are sure to get riled up once or twice in the movie. Our actors as well were believable as soldiers with John Krazinski capturing all the emotion and tension of a military man. James Badge Dale also does a “bang” up job portraying the leader of the Special Forces unit, bringing a blend of honor, courage, and ironically rebellion in his steely gaze. Yet the true magic is when these two, and the other four soldiers come together, to create what feels like a unit of brothers is formed.


Of course the true majesty of this movie is the editing. The special effects crew crafted a piece of work here that truly is worthy of an Oscar nomination. While the pyrotechnics were a bit overdone, they felt well placed and appropriate for the scenes at hand. Even more impressive is what the sound/music team has crafted together. While booms, crackling guns, and dying scream my not be the most unique thing to grace the speakers, this film does a great job executing them, making sure to not overpower the dialog and military jargon. For me it was the music that brought the main emotional fervor to this film13 hour. The graceful piano work combined with the camera work nearly brought a tear to my eye at the end, mirroring the emotions of the scenes. As for the camera work well that aspect is unfortunately not as good. On the positive side, Bay captures the war from all angles capturing the full effect of the hell this event was. Seeing men erupt into fountains of blood, or losing limbs is something that isn’t easy on the eyes and brings out the true carnage. Yet Bay can’t seem to hire a stable camera crew to his films. Once more the team has tried to immerse you into the chaos, but I found this ploy to be annoying, nauseating, and a bit distracting.


Overall 13 hours is a solid military action movie filled to the brim with that pride filled portrayal of America’s military. The action is solid and the emotional development adds an extra layer of depth that sometimes lacks in this genre. However, the movie isn’t that original and uses the same ploys to glorify military prowess, though this movie does a better job of showing how ugly war is. Editing wise, the movie is solid, though I wished they dropped another half an hour off the runtime. Yet in the grand scheme of things this movie was well done and a nice adventure to start the year off right.


Is it worth a trip to the theaters? I would say yes for the technical aspects of the film. Those who have weak constitutions to blood, death, violence, or realistic military warfare should skip this film. One thing I can report, this movie was very popular to older audience members, some having many choice things to say at the end, which I don’t wish to repeat. Also those who have PTSD involved with military may not be able to handle the more emotional parts of this movie, as about five men left the theater in a hastened gait.


My scores overall are:


Action/Drama/Thriller: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

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