13 hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
The history of movies is almost as controversial as the events that went down in Benghazi, Libya. From scandals to affairs, Hollywood has been controversial since the beginning of time. The movie presents itself just like Hollywood. The exterior structure looks glamorous with a hollow center of both destruction and chaos, with both a surprising good narrative and less Baism then his past films. Bay seemed to have truly wanted to make a good movie, without the need to trump action over characters. This results in a good tale of the soldiers who gave their lives to fight an enemy that shouldn't exist.
13 hours tells the true story (depends on what you believe) of the accounts leading up to the attack of a military base in the city of Benghazi, Libya. There has been Civil uprising of the government, which leads to the militant capture of the country. They shunned many world powers, especially United States out of the country. After a press meeting with the an United States Ambassador is leaked to the public, the militants track down his outpost. This leads to the death of the Ambassador that then spirals out of control. This leads to military base being next one the list. The military will now have to defend their stronghold against the onslaught of forces who are headed their way.
Bay has mostly created lifeless characters, an action driven story, and laughable romance in almost all of his movies. His track record has been less than even bad, with movies like the Rock being the best. Bay has produced a lot of critics because of this. Though he's been able to turn a profit with almost everything he touches. Though his storytelling is pushed aside for cheap tricks and remarkably terrible dialogue. This phenomenon is called "Baism". It's when a director simply makes money, no matter the quality of the film. Though this has led to a decline in sales, because audiences just seem to value the movies again. However, this outing is the best he's ever produce. Bay leaves all the trickery at the door, for some good character development.
The story is as hollow as any bad movie out there. The story train chugs down the straight path and hits all of the same rhythms as every real life war movies before it. Little history lesson with text, small period showing unrest, civilized manor of defusing that unrest, diplomacy fails, climax occurs, and the resolution. This doesn't have anything new or even compelling. It's a predictable ride throughout and no major significance happens in the story.
Though Bay doesn't want the audience to focus on that portion of the movie. His attention is solely committed to giving the audience the real victims, the soldiers. In most of Bay's former movies, action was pushing the story along. It was the action that turned the attention away from the poorly written script and stiff characters. It a Baism tactic to distract the audience to shift focus off the awfulness of the movie. However, 13 hours kicks off the meat of the movie with action, it's the characters who push the story along. The characters create the action through their actions, and it allows the centers the focus onto the characters involved.
Though it seems like another distraction tactic, that turns the focus away from the story. However, the characters feel so genuine and real, that it isn't problem to focus solely on them. That's what the title even says. They are secret soldiers in foreign land, which they don't truly understand themselves. Bay truly captures this aspect by getting the audience to get connected with these characters. His goal is for the tension to rise when these characters are in trouble, not begin able to distinguish the enemy from the friendly's. This wouldn't be possible if Bay just throe action in the faces of the audience. He really achieves tension by simply narrowing the focus onto a couple of people. The connection between the characters and audience is captured by giving us only small backgrounds characters other than the main character. Not bogging down the movie with sappy back stories of every single man. Though giving enough insight to care for those that eventually die.
Overall, Bay does a fine job with creating a movie that's mostly character driven, pulling away from his usual Baisms, to produce a mature movie to honor these men. Though Bay can't help himself at times with some bad dialogue, firework explosions, a weak story, and one or two lifeless characters. However, Bay puts on his directors cap to make a grounded film that tells the story of survival. It gives way to some great scenes of extreme tension. 13 hours might not be up to the 2014 standards of American Sniper, but sets itself up to be its little brother. 8/10