Fighting a culture war
Adapting Boston University professor Mitchell Zuckoff's heavily researched account of the same name, 13 Hours is determined to cut through BS to tell a story of bravery. Bay casts an array of bearded, charismatic Xerox dudes -- including James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3), John Krasinski (The Office), and Pablo Schreiber (aka Pornstache on Orange Is the New Black) -- who cobble together camaraderie and humanize the terror. When the mundanity of security work implodes into a firefight, the Bay we know and occasionally love goes to work.
But embedded into every line, every step, is Conservative catnip. 13 Hours juxtaposes shots of the White House with the film's repeated mantra: "We don't have any fucking support." The soldiers lambast their CIA spy coworkers until the final moments, because brains alone can't solve world problems (Bay even sends a female agent tripping down a flight of steps to prove a point). 13 Hours remains opaque enough that it can't come under fire for taking a point of view, but Bay plays the politicking like a dogwhistle. A line like, "They're all bad guys until they're not" could speak to the chaos of the soldiers' situation -- with pro-America Libyans intermingled with militants, their telling who was on what side was near impossible -- but it could (and will) provide endless amount of jingoistic rant fodder. Basically, I know which uncles I'm hiding on Facebook when 13 Hours hits theaters.