THE BEST THING that can be said about 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is that the words "Hillary Clinton" don't appear anywhere in it. The new Michael Bay movie depicts the 2012 attack of Libyan militants on two American compounds in the city of Benghazi, and to Bay's credit, he doesn't try to weave in a broad conspiracy plot or any political intrigue. This is a relatively mean and lean (well, as lean as 144 minutes can be) action movie with tons of pyrotechnics and almost zero context. We simply see what happened during those 13 particular hours: shooting and shouting and grown men with beards being incrementally covered in dirt, sweat, blood, shrapnel, and honor.
Still, the confusion and sense of disconnect that surrounded the unfortunate incident are basically shoved down the viewers' throats. You can just tell conservatives are gonna love 13 Hours' conspicuous timing and jingoistic malarkey, and will do their darnedest to turn it into a piece of propaganda.
They'll have a tough time, because the movie's basically unintelligible. Our six heroes are six private military contractors with six manly beards, hired to protect a CIA outpost in Benghazi. One of the beardies is Jim from The Office but good fucking luck telling the rest of them apart. Bay should know how to solve simple cinematic problems like how to differentiate your characters—did he learn nothing from producing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Give 'em colored headbands... or different weapons, at least.
Actually, 13 Hours wants to be as authentic as possible, so we get one long action sequence in which we watch shit go very, very wrong. But it fails even as a basic history lesson, unless you think history lessons consist entirely of glorious warfare and noble death and brightly colored explosions. And beards.