Tuesday, 2 February 2016

REVIEW - 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI (MICHAEL BAY)


There is no more ardent purveyor of the kind of fascistic, jingoistic bravura mayhem that action films needlessly thrive on than Michael Bay. Here is a filmmaker wholly attuned to his shortcomings, so much so that one suspects he flaunts, perhaps even heightens them out of sheer gall, before swiftly returning to the aforementioned mayhem. The downtime in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi functions as preparation, as an aside, or as an extension of the poisonous politics that Bay pushes in his action sequences, never negating the effect of the film's raison d'etre, rather bolstering it. This is a brutish hurrah to brutishness, idiotic and intolerant, and flawlessly so. It's innately suspicious of intellect, and any form of compassion that diverges from those select American values that Bay holds dear - family, blind loyalty and superiority based upon strength and convention. 13 Hours is an admirably-made piece of A-grade American muscle, but it's too noxious for me, and I cannot detach my opinion on its technical excellence from my opinion on its political ugliness when evaluating it as a whole. It unsettled me, stirred up disquiet that I don't like to imagine anyone experiencing, especially not when provoked by works of art (ftr, there are many types of disquiet which I'd encourage art to stir up otherwise). Yet Bay, the craftsman not the politician (he's infinitely more talented as such), produces some of his finest work in 13 Hours, evidently enthused by this film's smaller scale, compared to most of his other output. It's perversely thrilling to watch him find new ways to manufacture an action set-piece, even if his chaotic style of direction renders the story even more impossible to follow. Admittedly, 13 Hours is largely structured as a video game, which is where all such films tend to lose me. As the pinnacle of Michael Bay's fascistic, jingoistic outlook on filmmaking, this film lost me before it had even begun.