Review: ’13 Hours’ Is a Punishing Tribute

Michael Bay has a pretty extensive portfolio under his directorial belt, with 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi being his third project based on real-life events.

Like last year’s American Sniper (which was helmed by Clint Eastwood), 13 Hours is a long action drama that puts recent military heroes at the forefront, documenting (sometimes literally) the events of combat in the Middle East.

While Eastwood positioned Sniper to be something closer to Bigelow’s Hurt Locker, Bay channels Michael Mann for 13 Hours, albeit with all-digital video, his signature action stylization, and some graphic content worthy of the R rating.

Unlike a typical action film by Mann, 13 Hours is a bit of a mess, both in writing and in editing.

The film centers around the GRS, a covert security team dispatched against Lybian rebels during the Benghazi attacks. This is the conflict that ensnared American Ambassador Chris Stevens, and 13 Hours goes to great lengths when it comes to capturing the pure chaos of this true event.

That’s probably the film’s biggest issue. Much of the filmmaking is inventive, and it has some of Bay’s creative set pieces. But it’s jumpier than some of the political conflicts consistently appearing onscreen, with its quick-editing feeling too cumbersome throughout the movie.

13 hours review

Despite the film’s high production value and sometimes startling cinematography, the camera hates to linger on any given moment, always cutting you to the next sequence or possible encounter. While this makes for a good study of what true warfare is like, techniques like this and the dreaded shaky cam make it hard for moviegoers to keep up with 13 Hours during its painfully long running time.

The performances in 13 Hours are about as generic as you’d expect, with Krasinski trying his darnedest to work with Bay’s direction. There are a handful of unique surprises, but the character arcs fail to evolve from the high pedestal these soldiers are put on from the beginning, a common side effect when filmmakers create a tribute of recent events.

You don’t second guess the skill or bravery of the GRS, forcing you to rely on some unbalanced comedic timing (yes, 13 Hours is crammed with quips) and some tell-don’t-show exposition to make you care about each of them. That said, the film will likely succeed overall at making you root for them, since you do want to see these super soldiers unleashing hell.

I’m going to give 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi a C+

Too many technical issues hold 13 Hours back from being thoroughly entertaining, despite how hard it tries to deliver a touching tribute with some challenging politics and performances. If you’re not a fan of Michael Bay’s style of filmmaking, it’s best to skip this one.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni


Michael Bay Will Not Return For Next Transformers Film.

Michael Bay

Dennis Upkins |

Variety reports that Bay is in preliminary discussions to direct Paramount’s 13 Hours. Based on actual events, the story recounts the attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA Annex in Benghazi, Libya, on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11.

While Transformers: Age of Extinction has banked more than $1 billion worldwide, the 49-year-old director recently announced that he wanted to pursue other projects.

“I have a lot of stories to tell,” Bay said. “And it’s about flexing new muscles.”

I wouldn’t get your hopes up. He said the same thing about doing a fourth Transformers movie, but that happened anyway. 

And I’m sure he’ll handle Benghazi with about as much grace as you’d expect.

As for the future of the Transformers franchise, fans have little to worry about. At this point, the formula has been pretty much nailed down, so any director who takes the reigns will find it easy to carry on what’s made the franchise such a consistent success at the box office.

It would take a franchise-killer director like  Shyamalan to mess this up.

If ‘Up’ Was Directed by Michael Bay

Well. This happened.

Honestly, I’m only bringing myself to share this because it actually made me laugh out loud and hate myself at the same time. What else on the Internet can do that?

Let’s all take a moment of silence and thank Pixar for choosing Peter Docter (not Michael Bay) to direct Up. Also, was that Linkin Park playing in the trailer? Well done MrStratman7 for making this.

up directed by michael bay

A Transformers Fan Put Together A Video Of Every Transformation From The Movies (And It’s Amazing)

My brain may have hated the Transformers movies (it hates anything that causes headaches and Shia Labeouf), but my heart will always have a place for watching large robots beat the crap out of each other in stunning HD.

Someone I assume to be the world’s biggest Transformers fan with video editing skills agrees with me that the only aspect of the Michael Bay movies that really brought us to theaters was the transformations, so this fan put together a video that features every single transformation from the first movie to Dark of The Moon.

It’s 10 minutes long, but I suspect that you’ll watch it all the way through. I did, and I’d rather go to sleep tonight not believing that I’m the only person who could actually sit through the awesome that is this video.


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Review: ‘The Purge’

The makers behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious really understand how to make horror movies, at least financially.

After all, the return on investment for their films is astonishing.

Recall that Paranormal Activity only cost $15,000 to make and brought in almost $200 million. Every sequel since has replicated this, albeit with higher budgets.

This weekend, The Purge, debuted at #1 in the box office, already making its entire budget in the first weekend. In a decade when horror movies aren’t exactly a safe bet for investors, Jason Blum has managed to change that with his high-concept horror movies that seem to really bring in audiences.

So, is The Purge worth watching? You’ve probably heard some bad buzz. It has been panned by critics who were disappointed at the misuse of the film’s interesting concept of what would happen if crime was legal for 12 hours.

Casual film goers have been giving mixed to bad reviews, proving that this isn’t just a critical dismissal.

The problem with The Purge is two-fold for me. The biggest issue is how limited they were with the premise. Here you have this wonderfully original backdrop for a great commentary on laws, utilitarianism, and the actual effects of unrestricted humanity.

The movie does little to address the interesting themes surrounding man’s depravity and our ill attempts at restraining it.

The second issue I had, and many casual viewers had, was the “in-your-face” subtext that sent a clearer message than I think they attempted. They basically could have called it, “This is What Would Happen If the Tea Party Won” and “Class Warfare 101.”

You see, the orchestrators behind this ridiculous “Purge” law are a political party that is eerily alludes to the conservative “Tea Party.” I don’t really have a problem with this concept, except that it is handled so terribly and offensively.

The real message behind this law, if you really think about it, is that the best way to handle the poor is to let criminals wipe them out once a year (hence it is called the “Purge”).

After all, the only people who are safe from the “Purge” are the rich, and the villains of the movie are clearly upper-class maniacs who are letting their true nature shine once a year.

It’s just so obvious and obtuse. Class warfare commentary was already really old when In Time came out. The whole Robin Hood thing is just getting preachy at this point, and this is coming from someone who is far from rich.

So, no I don’t think this movie is very special. It doesn’t have an interesting horror story behind it that you haven’t seen before, and the exhausting subtext does nothing to alleviate that.

There is already a sequel in the works, and I actually look forward to seeing if they can get it right the second time, but for now, this is a “nothing else to watch” rental.


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