Thursday, January 14, 2016
THE 13 HOURS PARADOX:
Michael Bay’s Benghazi movie is his least-propagandistic yet. http://vlt.tc/28mk “Let’s start by stating the obvious: The world needed a Michael Bay Benghazi movie like it needed a hole in its ice cap. That being said, it’s a strange thing that it took the ultimate political football to inspire an inveterate pornographer like Bay to make his least propagandistic movie. Who knew it would take a polarized event for him to discover nuance? Well, nuance for Michael Bay, anyway. There are still countless shots of Old Glory fwapping sexily in the breeze (then a later one of it floating bullet-riddled, in the pool of a burned out diplomatic outpost – SYMBOLISM). Characters still growl things like “You’re in my world now,” “Sh*t just got real,” and “Yay, McDonald’s!” (Not making these up, I swear.) Buffed-up dudes still commit courageous acts, selflessly, shirtlessly, while fingering wedding rings and caressing pictures of their beautiful wives, who bravely await their husbands’ return while not interfering with the story.
“Yet for all the signature Bayisms, about the worst thing you can say about 13 Hours is that it’s really long (about two and a half hours). I expected corny ridiculousness, and instead I got an extended firefight that went heavy on the beard porn but relatively light on the xenophobia. It’s a movie that, all things being equal, is probably less corny and ridiculous than Lone Survivor or American Sniper. It’s impossible to discount expectations, and with mainstream presidential candidates currently going full Bill the Butcher with their anti-immigrant fear mongering, the last thing the world needs is a movie about courageous American heroes bravely mowing down hordes of faceless, bloodthirsty furreigners. In that context, the news that Michael Bay was directing the story of an angry mob murdering an ambassador put palm to forehead faster than you can say “libtard.” (I’m very excited about some of the inevitable comments on this post, lemme tell ya.)
“But war does strange things to people, and war movies do strange things to directors. Where normally even-keeled storytellers like Peter Berg and Clint Eastwood wrap themselves in the flag and start spewing clichés, the ultimate flag-pimping cliché spewer Michael Bay turns inward. As the subtitle,”The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” might suggest, the focus in 13 Hours is firmly on the gang of mercenary ex-special forces guys, contracted by the CIA to provide security for a base that wasn’t supposed to be there, and later the ambassador, who wasn’t supposed to travel with such light security. While most of the Benghazi hearings focused on what happened at the top — who screwed up which planning, whether the president said which magic words when — Bay just leaves all of that out. It’s stuff for the poindexters and nerdlingers to argue over while the real men shoot guns and go home and f*ck the prom queen. There may have been a few dog-whistle moments that I missed on account of I don’t speak the language of right-wing email forwards, but for the most part 13 Hours is all about the dudes on the ground, the buff, bearded, super soldiers Michael Bay totally would’ve been one of if he hadn’t gone into directing lingerie commercials instead.
“It works, though, because while it’s easy to argue politics, it’s hard to argue that the individuals depicted here don’t deserve to be memorialized. And truthfully, I hadn’t considered that until Michael Bay convinced me that they do. F*ckin’ A, well done, Michael Bay, imagine that.”