13 Hours

13 Hours:  Michael Bay wants you to believe that he can turn anyone, including Jim, into a badass.

Michael Bay gets a ton of shit, and considering his movies, a lot of it is earned. He is responsible for the explosion heavy, American flag waving, slo-mo filled sequel vomit of the Transformer’s series and made Pearl Harbor which should be considered a step below war crimes. But on the other hand, he did make Bad Boys and Pain & Gain so we shouldn’t drag him out on the streets just yet. By the way. Fuck you. I’ll defend Pain and Gain until I die. His latest, 13 Hours, takes a more subtle approach to his usual formula with the result being somewhere in the middle.


When I think of beautiful vacation retreats, I don't think of Libya. But when I think of violent shitholes.....

The movie starts in the weeks prior to the conflict gradually building up tension. Benghazi is turning really nasty in the aftermath of a revolution with a militia getting bolder by the day and a weapons market that makes heavy ordinance available on your everyday street corner. A lone and isolated CIA outpost sits quietly acting as an unofficial American presence in the region with a station chief at constant odds with the more proactive security contractors. Things get more complicated when a US senator decides that after a violent revolution, it’s is the best time to say hi to the locals. Despite the misgivings of the contractors, the senator’s compound gets overrun by the now violent militia and sets in motion the violent confrontation between them and the few contractors in their way. Also, Jim finally proposes to Pam.

"Dude. When only killed like 50 of their dudes and now they are using mortars? Fucking dicks."

It’s a simple take on the complicated events that happened in 2012 which hurts an already interesting narrative. Initially, we see the events unfold through the eyes of John Krasinski whose performance as a restrained badass is believable and a little impressive. Interestingly, while Jim serves as your opening view into the crew, it feels more like an ensemble as we go down the timeline. Right from the get go, you see the obvious lines drawn comically between the CIA station chief not wanting them there and the alpha, proactive, and future “I told you so” heroes the security contractors. It feels as if rather than make the the militia the villain and showing everyone’s hand in the fuck up sandwich that’s Benghazi, it chooses instead to make them feel like a force of nature and turn the station chief into the person you want to punch. I wouldn’t say they dance around politics, but tries to focus on the events as they happened. Judging by the comment sections of online news around the event and that this is an election year, I’m kinda glad they did.

"Fuck this shithole. I going home, killing Dwight, and fucking Pam. Peace out fuckwads."

With 13 Hours, you get the Michael Bay grab bag. There’s car chases, explosions, sunsets, and slo-mo, but he can also make even the most mundane shots look good. And yes, you get a couple of shots of the American flag, but ultimately the end result isn’t actually bad even if it feels more like football with guns rather than Black Hawk Down. Bay gives a more reserved take with style that can hopingly get more polished, but this late in the game for his career, it seems unlikely. The events and fallout from Benghazi are more complicated and warrant a more indepth film, but 13 Hours seems to do the job if you want a simpler yet reserved take.