DIRECTOR: Michael Bay
This film has made little impact, so little in fact, that it only really came to my attention when it appeared on Blu-ray a month or so ago. I am a fan of Michael Bay, the pariah of the movie industry, though I believe that he is a stylish and popular director and whilst critics love to hate him, his box office should surely speak for itself.
He fails as much as he succeeds and his work often lacks class but is made up for with intelligent scripting, sharp, confident direction and generally a real, palpable sense of enjoyment. But what about this, his first true story war film since the popcorn epic which many found insulting, Pearl Harbor back in 2001?
Well, firstly, it is good, solid, detailed and explosive, but its pacing is off, with the first 40 minutes feeling like such, with the attack on a make shift U.S. Embassy located in Libya in 2012, not really kicking off until around the hour mark and it is not as if this time was gripping. It teased action, tries in vein to flesh out closed off characters, that of ex-Seals turned private contractors who are faced with defending a weak U.S. position in Benghazi.
This Zulu or Alamo style situation has be been done before and so much better. In short, 13 Hours wants very much to Black Hawk Down (2001) and whilst Bay successfully blends his style of action with the style of Ridley Scott’s brilliant modern war movie (Black Hawk Down), it lacks the tension or pacing that film.
Bay at his best, creates lively character who are dragged along with his break neck pacing and editing style. Here, he tried very heard not to do another Pearl Harbor and let’s face it Michael Bay is no Ridley Scott. He has a great style and one which I personally love but no matter how many times he wants to tell us that he can pull off a real live event which requires tact, it is not his forte.
He is playing it safe and in doing so, he may deliver a solid, respectful film but in all honesty, that is not what I am paying for when I go to see a Michael Bay movie. The flair needed to elevate this film from the “interesting” place that it is, is beyond Bay as his flare is completely at odds with this material.
That said, this was good film, well worth a watch and is Bay has done a solid job and I am not criticising him for that, but it is just not as good as it could have been if it had be handled by someone capable of subtle direction. Bay is many things but subtle is not one of them.