“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” 3 stars (out of four)
Director Michael Bay recreates in startling detail the dark events of Sept. 11, 2012, in “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” – a riveting portrayal of the coordinated terrorist attacks by Islamic militants on an American Embassy compound and secret CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.
Based on accounts of a handful of real-life CIA security contractors (made up of former Army Special Forces personnel and Navy SEALs) who where there, “13 Hours” is no doubt a huge departure for Bay, a director has spent the bulk of the last decade making “Transformers” movies (which are becoming dumber with each outing). And while “13 Hours” approaches the same level of chaos and number of explosions as the “robots in disguise” movies, at least these explosions and chaos serve a purpose.
Clocking in at 2 hours and 24 minutes, “13 Hours” doesn’t feel nearly as long as other 2 hour-plus movies of late, mainly because the intensity makes the time fly right by. Since Bay isn’t deterred by the blood and carnage resulting from the attacks, “13 Hours” is very tough film to watch, especially because, like “American Sniper,” we know the tragic outcome going in. At the same time, the film serves as fitting tribute to the sacrifices and heroism of the real-life ex-military personnel who fended off the attacks in Benghazi, as well as Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was the main target of the attack.
Even though the film tries to steer clear of partisan politics, “13 Hours” is bound to be dissected and inspire arguments between party loyalists on the left and right, since it never once mentions then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama (at least by name, there is one reference to POTUS) or for that matter, any other politicians on the hot seat in the wake of the attacks. Bay and company are not afraid, however, to point out the woeful lack of security and desperate calls for military help from the Americans in peril in Benghazi, which is far more powerful than any political finger-pointing. While “13 Hours” is not a perfect film, it’s a compelling one nonetheless.
“Intruders” (R) 3 1/2 stars (out of four)
Minnesota filmmakers Adam Schindler and Brian Netto follow-up their shocking horror film debut “Delivery” with an impressive results in “Intruders,” a twisty home invasion thriller about an agoraphobic woman, Anna (Beth Riesgraf), trapped by her own fears when burglars strike her creaky family abode. Unable to flee even though she has ample opportunities, Anna, who suffers from another psychosis, turns the table on the criminals as her home turns into a virtual maze with no apparent way out. Available on VOD Friday.