I knew you still had it in you, Michael Bay. When hipster film geeks doubted and badmouthed you online, I stayed loyal. After all, how could the director of classics such as “Bad Boys,” “The Rock” and “Armageddon” possibly be a hack? Although my faith did falter after “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” I even called it one of the worst films of 2014.
We know you have great love for the U.S. military. They feature in many of your films, always in a respectful way. Your previous film based on a true-life military event (“Pearl Harbor”) was weighed down by a silly romance. This time, you learned your lesson and focused on real heroes. “13 Hours” tells the tale of the brave men who defended a secret CIA fort in Libya a few years ago. It puts you right in the middle of the action and makes you feel the men’s desperation as they fend off waves of attackers, not knowing if help will come. I found myself calculating the elapsed time with each onscreen time stamp, trying to figure out how much longer they would have to endure. Even knowing the outcome, I was so engrossed that all I could think about was how they could be saved, and hope none would perish.
If “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is a sign of the quality of films to expect in 2016, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store.