John Krasinki's Bomb

It's nice how they're calling 13 Hours a Michael Bay film. It's actually a John Krasinski film directed by Bay, and it's a bomb:

Making a movie about Benghazi is a difficult task. There’s a phenomenally interesting story to be told about the deadly 2012 assault on the diplomatic outpost that captures the drama of the attack itself alongside the complicated politics of post-revolution Libya, the idealistic motivations of the diplomatic personnel who got caught up in the tragedy, and the clandestine machinations of American intelligence services on the ground. Telling that story would be a monumental challenge, requiring a filmmaker with a gift for subtlety, a talent for weaving complex stories together, and a sophisticated understanding of the raw politics that still envelop Benghazi like so much concertina wire.

But we didn’t get any of that. Instead, we get Bayhem.

Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is a bad movie. And I’m not just talking about the filmmaking, which is bad in the way that most Michael Bay movies are bad – it’s loaded up with frenetic camera work, neck-snapping edits that make it impossible to follow the action, and gratuitous war porn. If you were unfortunate enough to have seen “Pearl Harbor,” Bay’s other steaming pile of reductive patriotism, you may remember this shot, in which the camera trails a Japanese bomb as it spins toward an American warship. “13 Hours” features that exact same shot, only this time the camera follows a Libyan militiaman’s mortar shell on its way to murdering an American security agent.

The moral lesson here is--what? Don't make a film without a movie star in it? That you can't attack the Clintons and get away with it? Krasinski can't open a film? Or that Michael Bay has not held on to any of the box office magic he used to have (remember when these were films that came out in the summer--and now we get one after Christmas)? This should have been an early summer release. They should have dropped it on Memorial Day or the 4th of July weekend.

I think you have to divorce the art from the politics in order to succeed. A film like this could have been as successful, if not more successful, than American Sniper. Very similar milieu, very similar kind of a subject. The only thing missing was a performance that would have rivaled Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. Oh, and the fact that Clint Eastwood wisely eliminated Chris Kyle's outspoken wingnut politics from the finished product and focused on his PTSD and his relationship with his wife, which was done in such a way as to make her a central focus of his life without relegating her to a supporting and nurturing role.

If Bay had found two actors who could have pulled off something remotely similar, we'd be talking about something else right now.


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