Michael Bay has spent most of the previous ten years making Transformers movies, with the exception of his true story-based crime tale Pain & Gain. The filmmaker will return to the realm of real-life stories for his next directorial effort, title 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi; a film that examines the September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station in Benghazi, Libya.
13 Hours is based on accounts of the Anex Security Team as well as author Mitchell Zuckoff’s book about the event, titled “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi”. Bay called the shots on the film, drawing from a script by author/screenwriter Chuck Hogan (co-creator of The Strain), and directing character actors John Krasinski (The Office), Pablo Schreiber (Orange is the New Black), Max Martini (Pacific Rim), and James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3), among others.
The first 13 Hours trailer is now online (watch it above) and even this footage alone features several recognizable signatures of Bay’s filmmaking style (dramatic shots of American iconography, explosions, lens flares), though here it’s grounded in a real-world thriller involving an attack on a U.S. compound. Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor is the recent addition to that genre that the 13 Hours trailer footage brings to mind, though Bay’s movie appears to have a more sophisticated and shinier cinematic aesthetic. Meanwhile, its tone brings to mind the director’s earlier work in the 1990s (see The Rock, and so on).
For those unaware, here is the synopsis for Zuckoff’s 13 Hours source material:
13 Hours” presents, for the first time ever, the true account of the events of September 11, 2012, when terrorists attacked the US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya. A team of six American security operators fought to repel the attackers and protect the Americans stationed there. Those men went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale. This is their personal account, never before told, of what happened during the thirteen hours of that now-infamous attack.
The 2012 Libyan attack was quickly politicized, but for his film Bay appears focused on documenting the incident through a terse cinematic action/thriller, not its aftermath (much like Lone Survivor). 13 Hours is reported to have a leaner budget than most of Bay movies from the past ten to fifteen years, yet like Pain & Gain this new Bay project doesn’t abandon the filmmaker’s tendency to emphasize spectacle over more insightful storytelling or character development – judging by the initial 13 Hours footage, anyway.
Bay, shortly before he began filming 13 Hours, expressed a desire to start “flexing new muscles” and to explore different subject matter as a director; here, that’s what he’s doing There ought to be a decent-sized audience that’s interested and willing to take a chance on the movie and see how Bay handles the material (despite their concerns), if only to find out how 13 Hours compares to recent true story-based U.S. military films like Zero Dark Thirty, Lone Survivor, and American Sniper, among other titles.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi opens in U.S. theaters on January 15th, 2016.
Source: Paramount Pictures