I’m going to level with you: Michael Bay irks me, in a major sort of way. It’s not a question of not being able to “handle” his perspective, or his insistence on depicting American soldiers as nothing but saintly martyrs and heroes. It’s how watered-down his supposedly “extreme” movies end up being, especially when he decides to take on real-life events, such as the violent tragedies that unfurled in Benghazi in 2012 in the upcoming 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Given, the film is a long ways off from being screened for critics, but if Pearl Harbor is any indication, the John Krasinski-led film has all the makings of an unbearably short-sighted, atrociously sentimental doozie.
The two new trailers for the new Bay joint don’t do much to sway that opinion, as once again American soldiers, played by Krasinski, James Badge Dale, and Pablo Schreiber, amongst others, are seemingly depicted as bad-ass saints taking out cadres of “unfriendlies,” with seemingly zero context as to why, exactly, those people are so unfriendly towards Americans. Breaking Bad fans will note the inclusion of David Costabile, who played Gale on the masterful AMC series, who plays the non-descript “Chief” in the film, which again suggests a general disinterest as to what these men really think and feel inside, and a stressing on the importance of their jobs, underlining the script’s simplistic view of complex characters.
Check out both the green band trailer (first) and red band trailer for 13 Hours below:
Now, to be fair, the action does look positively thrilling, which has been true of even Bay’s most deplorable works. It’s why, at heart, Bay is more a master of the perverse and pyrotechnic, all fireworks and sardonic one-liners, and absolutely the wrong choice for this kind of rattlingly political material. (The right choice, of course, would be the great, under-valued Clint Eastwood, who, fake babies and empty stools aside, has made some of the most brilliant and balanced political films of the last two decades.) Bay’s most fascinating films, namely The Rock and the divinely outrageous Pain & Gain, tap into the grief and growing frustration of the working class, but when he gets self-serious, he creates atrocities of uncomplicated thinking and overtly tidy narrative structure.
13 Hours comes out on January 15th, 2016.
You can check out the poster for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi below: