We can all agree that Michael Bay is never going to direct a small, intimate, character-driven drama. Even if he did, he’s probably find a way to sneak at least one explosion into the story. Cinema’s pre-eminent purveyor of pyrotechnic carnage knows exactly who he is and what he does, but that doesn’t mean he’s averse to mixing it up on the rare occasion.
Bay has helmed fourteen features since debuting with Bad Boys back in 1995, and for the most part they all tick the same boxes regardless of genre. His films are big, broad, expensive, packed with one-dimensional archetypes and largely unremarkable scripts, but they all possess an impressive level of visual polish.
Only twice has the filmmaker ventured outside of his comfort zone, and while blackly comic caper Pain & Gain underwhelmed, you could make the argument that 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is Bay’s most underrated effort by quite some distance.
It’s definitely his most mature, restrained and gripping, and while it does feature plenty of destruction and slow motion, it’s not as showy as we’ve come to expect, either. A 51% Rotten Tomatoes score is dwarfed by an 82% user rating, and even though 13 Hours flopped at the box office back in 2016, it’s gained appreciation as an unsung war drama with serious action elements.
Netflix subscribers have clearly been enjoying it this weekend, after the true-life dramatization jumped by 27 places on the most-watched list, as per FlixPatrol.