14 February 2016

Is This A Hollow Victory?

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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi has to be one of the worst fucking titles ever. I mean, what does it even refer to?! '13 Hours' sounds to me like it's the first instalment of a shitty new Young Adult franchise. Or does '13 Hours' simply refer to the running time of the movie, because that's how long it fucking felt like. In fact, here's a better title for this movie- how about 'Another American Balls Up'? Based on a true story, the film is about an American security team that find themselves lost up Shit Creek after a U.S Ambassador is killed by a mob in his Libyan-based compound. Considering this is a touchy subject that's constantly being used as a political football, I'm sure you can imagine the calibre of director that would be required to tell the story. Could it be Paul Greengrass, Kathryn Bigelow, Oliver Stone, Clint Eastwood, or maybe even Ben Affleck? No. Fuck them. Let's get Michael Bay to do it. It's not like his films are always total shit... just look at Pearl Harbour! That film clearly understood the nuance's of history, hence Roger Ebert's classic review of it being about how “the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle”.


So in an attempt to appeal to as many people with money as possible, Bay has taken the unusual decision to remove any of the politics that may have otherwise made this movie interesting. His argument is that he wants to tell the human side of the story, which is an excuse that's been slightly scuppered by the fact that the characters are thinner than an anorexic victim of Auschwitz. I know that the main actor John Krasinski has been good in other things, and so I can only blame his lack of charisma here on Bay's direction. Partly because Bay has a history of pulling terrible performances out of decent actors, and partly because Krasinski began to resemble Shia Labeouf being displayed in the wrong aspect ratio. However, the actors are really just a group of hulk-shaped men that have been cast because they look good holding a gun and can just about string a couple of words together. Well, I say a couple of words.. most of them seem content to just use the word “brother” every three God damn seconds to the point where I started to develop a fucking twitch. Oh- and there's one line in it which was also so terrible that I had to stop to try to work out what the hell it meant. “We're going to put the fear of God of America in them”-- err, what?

Have you ever turned up to an event in a rented tuxedo and discovered that you're actually just eating pizza and watching The Fast And Furious with your mates? Well, the way that you'd feel embarrassed for being over-dressed in that situation was how I felt here for stupidly bringing my brain along. By taking the politics out and focusing in on a gang of characters that are less interesting than a conversation about anus-mould, you're only left with one thing.. war porn. In that regard, I'd be lying if I said that I couldn't find any enjoyment in this film, but it's not the kind of pleasure to be proud of. Kind of like advertising a film as a rom-com but then filling most of its running time with a ninety minute scene in which Jennifer Lawrence fuds herself off to photographs of a naked Natalie Portman. Would I enjoy that film? Give me a second to think about it... Yes. Yes, I would. But would that make it a good film? No. Well, the same applies to this movie too in that of course I can't help but enjoy seeing explosions and soldiers tool up and start shooting at things in slow-motion. But so what? Other films have that and substance. Essentially what Bay has done is take an interesting story and dumb it down to the point that it appeals solely to that one primordial cell that's left in our head and that enjoys flashing fucking lights.

I mean there are a lot of other movies that you can learn from when making something like this. Look at the classiness of The Hurt Locker, the tact of United 93, or the underlying satire of Argo. Then look at this film, which has a character blow up in such an extravagantly cliched way that it's hard not to laugh. I know this is all based on a true story too and so if I was the relatives of said person, then I think I'd have to fucking sue. He essentially roars in slow-motion as a bomb is about to explode before being surrounded by fireworks and sparks like he's just been announced as the fucking prom-queen. Then as he's killed with the explosion, it causes a photograph of his loved ones to fly out of his pocket and flutter into shot like the fucking feather from Forrest Gump. I honestly can't remember what was louder.. the sound of the bomb or the internal groan that filled my skull. I don't know if you remember, but in both the book and film version of Jarhead we're told that the soldiers watch Apocalypse Now to psych themselves up for battle. This is obviously to highlight the irony that most war movies claim to be anti-war but contain such poetic and heroic imagery that they're also kind of selling the idea too. There's a scene similar to that in 13 Hours.. except there's no sense of irony or meaning to the scene, and they're not watching something as classy as Apocalypse Now. As though to draw attention to brains behind those movies compared to the brains behind this one, in Michael Bay's version of a war movie, his soldiers prepare themselves by watching Tropic fucking Thunder.

However, as terrible as the movie is by appealing to that one caveman part of my brain, I really can't claim this to be Bay's worst movie. In fact it might even be the best of his that I've possibly seen. And don't think that means I'm saying that the film is worth seeing because it really isn't. As films go, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi is really rubbish. It's like a slightly racist remake of Assault On Precinct 13 in which the cult members of the original have been replaced by people that are just about tanned enough that America can enjoy seeing them die. However as crap as the film is, it really is a step up for one of the directors that I fucking hate the most. It's kind of like how an artist will paint something that's only average for them, and as a result receives a fairly cold reception at their exhibition. However, a mentally sub-par child might vomit some paint onto a bit of paper and say it's drawn a “birdy” causing its parents piss their pants with praise. Well Michael Bay is that mentally sub-par child, and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi is his vomity picture of a bird. Despite being as hollow as an Easter Egg that's shaped to look like Piers Morgan's soul, even this film has started being used in the current American Presidential race. Donald Trump has suggested that he sees worth in the film, which would pretty much rule me out as ever voting for him. Not only is he a mad racist with a psychopathic view on humanity but he has a shit taste in films too. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.



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