Malta/Morocco/USA, 2016. Paramount Pictures, 3 Arts Entertainment, Bay Films, Dune Films, Latina Pictures. Screenplay by Chuck Hogan, based on the book by Mitchell Zuckoff. Cinematography by Dion Beebe. Produced by , Erwin Stoff. Music by Lorne Balfe. Production Design by Jeffrey Beecroft. Costume Design by Deborah Lynn Scott. Film Editing by Michael McCusker, Pietro Scalia, Calvin Wimmer.
The disaster at an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 is given the Michael Bay treatment in this awkward hybrid between Zero Dark Thirty and brainless action films. John Krasinski, as always looking determined to get revenge on the girls who didn’t date him in high school, has just arrived to join his fellow special C.I.A.-contracted soldiers (members of the “Global Response Staff”) in what has already been declared the most dangerous place on earth. He and his fellow grunts enjoy their days in tense preparedness on their base while, up the road, the U.S. ambassador stays at an unofficial embassy enjoying a similar sense of unease with the locals. When enemy insurgents show up and start raining fire on the ambassador’s compound, the boys up the street want to help but are held back by their chief (David Costabile), who says he doesn’t want to leave their base unguarded but actually, because this is a Michael Bay film, we can safely say that, not being a giant muscleman with a gun, he Just Doesn’t Get It. Eventually our heroic grunts (led by the always excellent James Badge Dale) take the situation into their own hands and head over to help, but are too late to prevent a giant mess of casualties and non-stop fireworks in the sky.
Appealing characters and committed actors help the excessive running time go by in this rather one-note affair, but Bay’s attempt to make a politically engaged version of his previous action extravaganzas is undone by the fact that he seems perfectly incapable of injecting any intelligence into the noise. The film’s main obsession is its unabashedly sincere tribute to brute masculinity, nothing else is given much respect including Costabile’s brainy and therefore weak decision-making, and Alexia Barlier, playing an undercover C.I.A. operative who, as the lone American female, Just Can’t Be A Team Player. Bay works better when he’s honest about making movies for teenage male fantasies, but in all fairness, this one is only simple-minded, not boring, and the effects are excellent.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Sound Mixing