Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Genius of '13 Hours' Is in the Stories It Doesn't Tell

Many critics of Michael Bay's new movie claim that the story is too simple.  And they're half right.  It is simple.  But its simplicity is also its genius.  For the politically charged Benghazi story, laying it all out would have been ruinous.   A far more artistic approach is to tell the heroic part of the story and let the scandalous parts be revealed by the characters who are only there in the background or not at all: the shadow characters.

And there are plenty of shadow characters in this story. If you don't want to know who they are, kindly avert your eyes. There be spoilers here.

Unlike countless Hollywood productions that preach endlessly about the heroism, goodness and great hair of Democrats and the evil of Republicans, the new Michael Bay film is subtle about its preaching.  Sure, it's unapologetic in its lionization of the men who protected the Benghazi diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in 2012.  But, you have to pay attention to see anything at all about politics or the identities of the real bad guys.

And, yes, that makes the film subtle, even though 'subtle' is the single most fought-over fighting word of all the reviews of the film.  Disapproving critics, like these monkeys here, here, here and here, fell all over themselves to snarl the word 'unsubtle' as their favorite pejorative.  That's not surprising at all from folks whose favorite Presidential administration prizes 'nuance' above anything else, even when they fail spectacularly at it.  But manymany others saw it pointedly otherwise: some even called it both "subtle and nuanced."

Like John Nolte, at Breitbart, I believe that Bay's subtle handling of the blame-storming is far more effective than outright mocking of the guilty parties.  The only thing that could be even more effective in validating everything in Mitchell Zuckoff's book (the basis for the movie), would be if the 20-something staff of wrote a condemnatory review that revealed the 'truth', using their vast experience in North African warfare and firm grasp of history, and explained how the seasoned veterans who were actually there were all wrong about everything that happened.  Oh, wait.  They really did that.  Imbeciles.

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