’13 Hours’ Review

I saw ’13 Hours’ last night. I know everyone’s probably already seen this one, but I’m still going to do this.
I don’t like Michael Bay much. I thought ‘The Rock’ was an awesome movie, ‘Armageddon’ was flawed, but had good moments…and he’s made other movies, as well. None of those ‘others’ have been more than cheap action schlock, in my opinion. The man has proven time and again that he doesn’t understand comedy, he doesn’t understand subtlety, and he worships the military¬†with an almost fetishistic fanaticism. So, here was a military film from Michael Bay. I approached the theater with trepidation.
First of all, Michael Bay still cannot do subtlety. The quiet moments in-between action scenes are riddled with some pretty sub-standard dialogue, and characters are kind of boiled down into archetypes: the quiet, well-read one, the leader, the new guy, the jokester, and the tough old soldier. The CIA chief, in particular, is an absolute cartoon character, drawn as this incredible bureaucratic blowhard, which I think must be a ploy by the actual CIA to throw people off what they’re really like.
Secondly, Michael Bay still can’t really do comedy. Thankfully, there were far fewer characters like Sam’s parents in the ‘Transformers’ series, but there were still some awkward, cringey attempts at humor that just didn’t work at all. However, we’re dealing with barracks-room soldiers, so barracks-room humor is called for, and sometimes the jokes landed, and were actually entertaining, so he is improving.
My question going in, after having seen the ‘Transformers’ series, ‘Pearl Harbor,’ and the like, was ‘Can Michael Bay make a film in which the American flag is not poignantly destroyed, and then lingered on more than the deaths of actual characters?’ My answer, as far as this film goes, is ‘no, he cannot.’ I don’t feel that I’m spoiling anything by saying that.
However (and this is a big however), whatever the film’s shortcomings, when it wants to be tense and exciting…it can definitely be tense and exciting. The action scenes are great, managing to go from edge-of-your-seat tension to that involuntary grunting noise that (typically) guys make when someone gets hit really hard in a film.
The acting is also pretty solid. Look, I don’t like the characters in ‘The Office.’ I think they fall under either ‘insufferable,’ or ‘boring,’ and John Krasinski’s Jim Halpert was definitely in the latter category. I admit that I blamed my lack of interest in Mr. Krasinski’s lack of talent, but he pulls off a really nice little performance here, tough and compassionate, and he’s only ever really let down by the script.
It’s not a perfect movie. The dialogue is amateurish, the characters can be a little archetypal and over-the-top, but the acting is solid and the action is great. If you’re interested in a pretty good military movie, and don’t mind the truly remarkable amount of bad language, then this isn’t a bad watch at all.