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What We Know So Far: Based on true events, this biographical account tells the story of six highly-trained ex-military men working security in Benghazi who, on September 11, 2012, rush to defend the survivors of an attack of radical terrorists on the American diplomatic compound.
The Trailer: (Official)
David: Let’s get the obvious right out of the way. Yes, it’s directed by Michael Bay and yes there are explosions. That said, there is little else to that makes this feel like a Bay film. Not even one shot of a leggy woman’s rear end. It’s easy to dismiss Bay as a hack, but that is a terrible injustice. Despite the plethora of loud, silly films he pumps out, he is a visionary director and while most of his movies are unwatchable simply because of his obsession with excess, he is imaginative and has a real talent that is wholly being masked by the carnage he employs. Here, he looks to be toning it down, though the clip does feature eight (I counted) things being blown up and a number of firefights, this is surprisingly few considering who is behind the camera. Instead, there are some nice moments that focus on the characters, and they build to a powerfully emotional (and contrived) payoff at the end of the trailer. The cast is mostly unknown, with John Krasinski (The Office, 2005) headlining and perhaps most familiar. He looks suitably effective as the newbie to the security team, muscled-up and bearded, he has a great look as a hero. While the events in this movie are true, no doubt there are some liberties being taken and Bay can’t resist the temptation to over-dramatize with shots of American flags and attractive people lit with saturated sunlight shot with his trademark swirling camera. While I am grateful to see Bay taking on something with more topical and weighty, am hesitant to recommend in fear that this will be pure romanticized, action-junkie fodder and end up feeling like a two-hour video game cutscene that wholly skirts any political insights and motivations. As it stands, it’s 2 minutes of glowering, shining hero archetypes filmed as such in a shoot-em-up that looks to avoid any in-depth examination of the real event.
Dan: This is one of those rare cases where you don’t want to advertize the director in the trailer. It is the only thing causing apprehension. Screenwriter Chuck Hogan wrote the novel, The Town, which Ben Affleck directed. So, that’s a good sign. Perhaps Affleck would have been a more encouraging helmer for 13 Hours. The true story is definitely ripe for a Hollywood action movie. Knock Bay all we want, he knows how to orchestrate the action… and there are multiple explosions to enjoy. For action movie fans, there is so much spectacle to behold. The trailer gives me the vibe of Act of Valor meets Lone Survivor. While critics and audiences largely ignored the Navy SEAL flick Valor, I really enjoyed the focus on realism and stunts. I’m not expecting tons of emotion here, I am expecting tons of action. It’s too bad Michael Bay’s name is attached. I really think everyone would judge this trailer much differently if Bay’s track record didn’t influence us so negatively. Hey, at least there’s no robots. Right?
David Says: The American compound is overrun by terrorists that we don’t yet see, at least their faces, and it’s time for the security team to make a stand. There is a lot of action and swarms of armed men moving in on the palatial building. There is a radio message from inside claiming that if helps doesn’t arrive soon, they are all going to die. My Sneak Peek Moment comes when the station Chief (David Costabile) breathlessly talks to the security leader, telling him that they are not the first responders but the last resort. Costabile is one of my favorite character actors and I wish had a lot more prominent roles. He has this great sense of authority and vulnerability that makes this moment really shine. It gives the fighting and explosions some weight and while it might surely be entirely fictional, feels authentic. It’s the best moment in the clip.
Dan Says: While I’m not so confident in Michael Bay’s ability to convey emotions and have them resonate, I did believe one scene in particular. My Sneak Peek Moment is when the security team realizes how dangerous and hopeless this Benghazi mission just got. Their leader tells them that anyone can leave. He’s not ordering them to stay and (in all likelihood) sacrifice their lives. The soldiers stare at him for a second. No one says anything, but no one moves either. The whole team stays. This sort of show me approach to storytelling shows Bay can hold back and not always go over-the-top. This simple Moment landed with impact. I can root for these guys. I can’t believe I’m saying this about a Michael Bay film but I actually want to see these guys try and pull off the impossible mission.
Chuck Hogan (screenplay), his (book)