Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Chuck Hogan
Cinematographer: Dion Beebe
by Jon Cvack
Let me preface this by saying I’m fairly ignorant about the Benghazi Scandal. I figured that Michael Bay wasn’t going to politicize the film, but rather opt for an embellished documentation per the likes of Pearl Harbor. And having revisited Pearl Harbor, accepting that the film was taking significant creative liberties, I actually enjoyed it a lot more. You don’t look to Michael Bay for insight and analysis so much as capturing the heroism of those involved, whether the characters existed or not. As he’s been quoted saying, he makes movies for fourteen year old boys, and as a fourteen year old boy who loved - and still loves - The Rock and Armageddon I completely understood the point. Whether based on history or not, his mission is to entertain young boys who wouldn’t probably understand, or even care, about the facts.
Though with the exception of Pain & Gain - which I loved - Michael Bay has been close to entirely focused on expanding the dreaded Transformer Series, with yet another film due for release next year. I haven’t seen the second or the third, but the first was so terrible that I had no interest in dedicating close to six hours of my time to get updated on the series, as I don’t think I’ve met a single person who had anything beyond complete disdain for the sequels. Even The Island, while based on Aldous Huxley’s novel, was far away from what he achieved throughout the 90s; a film that wasn’t terrible, though served as a harbinger of where Bay would go through the 00s and 10s.
13 Hours, though, is a return to his supremacy as one of the greatest action filmmakers. It’s two and a half hours of nonstop action, adopting the badass bearded commando characters that we’ve seen throughout the last decade by the likes of The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, and Lone Survivor. I was surprised that it did so poorly, though I assume it was due to how heavily the situation was politicized. My hypothesis is that Democrats didn’t want to see it because it would harm the image of their beloved HRC, Republicans wanted to see a film that lived up to their conspiracies, and apolitical audiences, who were hearing non stop about the scandal, couldn’t take two and a half hours of potentially either category. Turns out they were all wrong, as the film might make subtle suggestions toward how the situation was managed, but is much more focused on the men who fought and died.
The story involves a group of Private Military Contractors who are called in to protect the kind of secret CIA base, reigned over by “The Chief” (played by David Costabile, who’s incredible). One of those men is Jake Silva, played by a freshly jacked John Krasinski, who attempts to show his A-list megastar chops, and could probably have succeeded should the film have done better. He’s surrounded by a group of badass commandos who are equally jacked up, bust each other’s balls, and essentially offer all the banter you desire during the behind the scenes moments. When they learn that the American Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens (Matt Letscher) is scheduled to arrive, and demands to be put in a former Libyan Businessmen’s estate, we get the largest taste of politics - which isn’t that much - in that even though the estate is a complete security risk, Stevens doesn’t care, as he wants takes phone calls while hanging out by the pool, drinking cocktails, and living the good life in an ISIS haven.
Silva and the other Commando’s job is to assess the estate’s security, which they of course conclude is highly problematic. With the Ambassador having only a handful of security and with the entire compound susceptible to everything from mortar attacks to attackers jumping the walls, they urge for Steven to leave. He refuses.
Check back for Part 2...
BELOW: Too many go pros, but still Bay 90s
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