Benghazi is a hashtag battle cry, a call to arms that many Americans don't understand. Unlike the simplicity of "Remember the Alamo!" a bleat of "Benghazi!" still has people wondering, "Wait, what happened? And why are we mad?"
Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi has an explanation, though it should be taken with a grain of salt -- or rather, a kilogram of dynamite. Bay takes Mitchell Zuckoff's nonfiction book of the same name and amps up the action with explosions, star filters and neon-blue lights that zip across our heroes' heads as they tromp down the alleyways of Libya's second-biggest city on a night that will cost four Americans their lives. When a man plops his boots on a desk, it sounds like a gun going off. When a gun actually fires, it sounds like a thunderbolt from Zeus. It's the truth cranked up to 11, boosted with brand new firefights (in real life, The Guardian found few bullet holes at the site of either skirmish) and a wholly fictitious bus blast that had my audience applauding with glee. "That was for us!" a character grins. Yes, literally -- it was invented for a crowd that prefers fist-pumping to facts.
In an early scene, Bay primes our engines with an octane-fueled car chase where two former Navy SEALs, Rone (James Badge Dale) and Jack (John Krasinski), escape a suspicious van by smashing into fruit stands at full speed. By contrast, Zuckoff, a sentimental but terse Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work at the Boston Globe in the late '90s, merely notes, "Eventually Rone lost the tail and returned them safely to the annex." You can hear Bay groaning, "Boring. Those cars don't even talk!"