I Watched Bayghazi So You Don’t Have to: A Gif Review
Ahhhh, January. The cinematic dumping. A time for shitty horror movies, whatever the hell this is, and Michael Bay’s hard-hitting take on Benghazi, AKA proof sent down from heaven by JESUS HIMSELF that Hillary Clinton is evil and hates America and kicks puppies in her spare time.
Prepare yourself, though, because Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is actually a hard-hitting, insightful examination of PFFFFFT no I can’t.
………. not awful?
I mean. It’s not great. It’s decent verging on good, but still on the positive side of acceptable. Which, by Bay standards, is holy shitballs amazing. Am I being too harsh on this movie because it’s Bay? Am I being not harsh enough on this movie because it’s Bay, i.e. my expectations were so low—like, trying to pass Mark Wahlberg off as an inventor low—that I was guaranteed to be pleasantly surprised by anything that exceeded them?
I don’t know?
13 Hours broke my brain.
So here’s the basic plot concept, for people not In the Know About Current Events.
John Krasinski plays Jack Silva, the newest member of a six-man security team hired to defend a secret CIA outpost in Benghazi, Libya, which was not a particularly safe place to be at the time. Near the outpost is a U.S. embassy, which one night is attacked by people who hate AMURRICA. Bang bang, shoot ’em up. You know how this goes.
Here’s the thing, though: For a movie that many (myself included) assumed would be Republican propaganda, 13 Hours is remarkably non-political. It’s a siege movie, essentially, and politics are never really addressed. The middle act, which comprises the initial assault on the embassy, is essentially Call of Duty: The Movie. (That sounds worse than it is. It’s actually pretty entertaining, if way, way too shakycam-happy.) There aren’t any shots of Americans getting gunned down in slo-mo while Hillary Clinton gives a press conference in the background and a bald eagle sheds a single perfect tear. Near the end of the film, there’s actually a shot of Libyan women grieving over their dead husbands, brothers, and fathers. Shortly afterwards, we see a Libyan holding up a sign that says (paraphrasing), “This is not what Islam is.” It’s like Bay made an effort to not be a xenophobic asshole.
The actors also handled themselves well. The first third of the movie is all clunky character development and clunkier dialogue (“Not only is it hot as balls, but you can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys.” Thanks, Exposition Fairy.), and the second third, as mentioned, is a bunch of dudes running around in the dark shooting at each other. But then, the movie takes a turn for the quieter, as Our Heroes hole up in the actually not-so-secret-after-all CIA base, waiting for the attackers to strike, and … look, all apologies to Chris Evans, but I totally get it now why John Krasinski was almost Captain America, back in the day. He can do the powerful, beefy soldier thing, but he also has this hangdog quality that makes it really easy to empathize with him, even when he’s playing a character that’s not all that open about his emotions. Emily Blunt lucked out, s’all I can say. Of course, Krasinski lucked out more …
… but that’s neither here nor there.
Still, at the end of the day, while 13 Hours may be a well-done, surprisingly emotionally affecting war movie (there was a guy behind me who was straight-up sobbing during the final scene), it is still a Michael Bay movie, and that means:
A) A scene where two characters talk about Gaddafi’s famous female bodyguards, and damn that’s hot. I bet they had tits ‘n’ stuff.
And a POV shot of a missile as it’s flying through the air.
B) Lots of American flags. I feel like Bay worked backwards with this one: “How can I have a movie where it makes sense that I have an American flag in every shot? Oh, I know! Set it in an US embassy!” There’s also a scene where a trio of baddies shoots at a flag in slow-motion, because fuck you, subtlety is for wimps.
C) Speaking of wimpery: There’s also a lot of machismo posturing. A lot of it. David Costabile plays Bob, the head of the CIA base, who’s like Vera the assistant in Jurassic World in that this movie is so damn mean to him for no fucking reason. Well, no, there is a reason: because Bob went to a fancy-pants college and thinks he knows more than his manly man security detail, who don’t know ’bout no book learnin’ but do know about guns and muscles and big, swinging dicks.
People call each other “brother” a lot. I felt like I was at a Hulk Hogan cosplay convention.
and D) It’s like half an hour longer than it should have been. Look, I genuinely like Pain and Gain—how can you not, really?—
… but that should have been shorter, too. Michael Bay is not of the “less is more” school of directing.
So that, ultimately, is the takeaway. 13 Hours is a good Michael Bay movie … but it’s still a Michael Bay movie. If you’re capable of indulgently rolling your eyes through the Bay-ish bits, you should have a good time. If not, go watch Mad Max: Fury Road again. In fact, probably watch Mad Max: Fury Road again anyway. It’s only the … what? Tenth time?
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