Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Michael Bay's BENGHAZI Movie. Yes, For Real.

This piece made possible in part by The MovieBob Patreon


For my international readers: American politics is still currently consumed by conspiracy theories surrounding the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. The event (which resulted in the deaths of multiple CIA operatives and at least two longtime American diplomats) is universally regarded as a tragedy, but differences in accounts of the day re: why relief was not deployed earlier and on whose authority have lead to widespread speculation and theories, most settling on a displacement of blame ("Someone important fucked up and their incompetence is being covered up"); but for a particular brand of unhinged paranoiac (read: The Republican voting-base) it's another insidious betrayal by President Evil - aka Barack Obama.

So goes some of the more popular lunacy: Obama and Hillary Clinton, in order to placate their respective Black Panther and Feminazi foot-soldiers (who are, for some reason, aligned with Islamic Fundamentalism in this scenario) "allowed" the Americans stationed there to die as some sort of sacrifice to either Al Qaeda, Gaia, or both. Or neither. Maybe they're just so evil it doesn't matter. Anyway, for obvious reasons it's not an issue that Democrats or "mainstream" Republicans are particularly hot to discuss (bringing it up during the last election led to one of Mitt Romney's most embarassing public gaffes), so the only time you really hear about it is when some hot-air escapes the right-wing talk radio echo-chamber.

In any case, you can see why this is fodder for a movie Hollywood would be desperate to make but almost no one would want to lend their name to: It's a more topical BLACK HAWK DOWN, with the potential to draw major box-office on curiosity alone... but it's also almost-certain to become co-opted by GOP/Tea-Party types and wind up bearing some super-ugly stigma. You'd basically need a major director who lives and breathes action, has a comfortable relationship with the "security community," desperately wants attention (and awards) as a Serious Filmmaker but also doesn't give a fuck about a bad media image.

Commissioner... get to the roof and light The BAY Signal...



For what it's worth, 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI is based on a book compiled from eyewitness accounts by members of the ex-military contractor team at the story's focus; which aligns largely with the "known facts" of the events and maintains an "in the moment" perspective and doesn't get into the stateside political theories or implications - save for the suspicion among some of the contractors that their CIA handler - whom they claim ordered them to delay intervention by about 20 minutes, leading to the attack getting disasterously out of hand and ultimately preventing rescue - did so in order to further conceal Agency presence in Libya by trying to enlist local militia fighters instead.

I have no idea what Bay's politics are, save that he has very strong feelings about animal cruelty and the protection of endangered species in particular. For what it's worth... I think it looks pretty good. I don't always love the way he cuts/edits the final product together, but Bay really is something like a prodigy when it comes to composition and mood - and for better or worse it's obvious that military settings inspire him to really dig deep. Cinematography is by Dion Beebe this time around, though it's impressive how much of the expected Bay aesthetic shines through.

My sense of this is that any political "interest" he might have in Benghazi begins and ends with his obvious affection for various military branches and the ability of the word "Benghazi!" to get audiences into theaters and the movie into the Serious Discussion circuit - that January 15th release date almost-certainly means it'll be screening NY/LA and critics groups in December to qualify for Awards Season. Yup, 15 years after PEARL HARBOR, Michael Bay is ready to try for his Oscar again. That should be interesting.


This piece made possible in part by The MovieBob Patreon