13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
It’s easy to be outraged by Michael Bay, whether you object to his incessant reliance on explosions and hot babes or his seeming employ by the US Military which sees him accused of producing “promotional videos” every time he drops a Transformers or a Pearl Harbor. For those for whom historical accuracy is also a sticking point, apparently the true story in 13 Hours has been doctored ever so slightly for dramatic purposes.
Normally, I’d say that’s not OK. But putting ethics aside, “Bay’s Benghazi Boys” is two and a half hours of well-crafted, coherent and endlessly fascinating Intel into the secret life of private security contractors in Libya: those working without diplomatic cover and guarantees, whose daily grind involves high-stakes manoeuvres and an uncompromising will for saving all those (Americans only – let’s be clear) in peril.
Bay plays this more serious than usual, dizzying us with his usual frenetic camerawork but lighting it exquisitely, and employing a surprisingly restrained soundtrack (under the watchful ear of Hans Zimmer) in support of the film’s strong, if largely two-dimensional, performances by non-stars such as James Badge Dale and John Krasinski (best known for The American Office and being married to that other action hero, Emily Blunt).
The result is we’re gripped – if not by the heart (some of the rhetoric inevitably grates) then by the theatrics. And no one does big and bold quite like Michael Bay.