'13 Hours' Director Michael Bay Didn't Set Out To Make Another Rah-Rah Action Movie

13 Hours Michael Bay On Set

Michael Bay’s film are notorious for glorifying the military and showcasing the action in slow motion, but you won’t find any of his signature camera moves in his latest 13 HOURS: THE SECRET OF SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI. Michael Bay says he didn't set out to make a “rah-rah” action film about these ex-military contractors, but he wanted to set the record straight at what really happened that fateful night on September 11, 2012 when four American’s died from an ambush by Islamic militants. He went to great lengths to bring accuracy to the action-drama by consulting with the brave survivors, the CIA and to stay truthful to the story told in the book, "13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi."  He gives us insight into his meeting with the CIA and why it was important for the world to know what really happened.

The media and politicians have used the 2012 Benghazi Attack, and the death of the American ambassador for their political gain, but the real story about the people who saved the lives of many Americans hasn’t been told. At an advance sneak peek in 2015, Michael Bay screened 15 minutes of the film, and talked about his research into the film. Two of the ex-military contractors from the Annex Security Team, John “Tig” Tiegen and Mark “Oz” Geist, who survived the attack, also spoke about their experience with Bay and what it meant for them to finally have their story told.   

13 HOURS focuses on the Annex Security Team, six elite ex-military operators hired by the CIA to protect their Benghazi compound. A few miles away, the American ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was set up in the American diplomatic compound with only three security contractors on his detail. On the anniversary of 9/11, extremists raided the Ambassador’s compound and set it on fire. The CIA contractors were ordered to stand down when they volunteered to leave and engage the militants. Several hours after the initial attack, the militants attacked the CIA compound.

13 Hours Movie John Krasinski Pablo Schreiber

Michael Bay referred to the Benghazi tragedy the Alamo of 2012.

“They are a very selfless breed of person. It’s a story about people that are selfless that give of themselves in an extraordinary event. They were going home in a week. They volunteered to go and rescue Americans in need. I’ve been associated with a lot of rah-rah American movies - this is not that. It’s actually quite the opposite. It really focuses on the people who were stuck at the base and in the compound that wasn’t covered in any of the news coverage.”

Surprisingly, the CIA agreed to meet with him to talk about 13 HOURS. They had extensive meetings to go over the script and story. Bay says there was one contentious detail about the story. In Congress, it was reported that there was no stand down order. However the contractors claim there was.

“In the CIA room, they (CIA) said there was no stand down order. I told them, ‘that’s not true. There was.’ I stared in four guys’ eyes that are special forces, and its not in their DNA to lie. And they would swear on their kids lives it happened. They (CIA) may be good spies but the body language gave away their body language in the room.” 

Bay says he took no sides and the Transformers director did his best to show both points of view including the CIA’s version through the “Bob character, the head of the CIA compound.

The men fighting that night, John “Tig” Tiegen and Mark “Oz” Geist, also spoke about their purpose in being part of the film that’s not political in nature.

“It’s more about the lives lost through bravery. It’s not about the politics on the left or the right because we’ve all heard plenty of that. It’s about how we forgot to honor the four Americans that gave their life that night. For the guys on the ground that night. It was our way of being able to tell it. First in a book and then Paramount and Michael Bay being able to give us that platform to reach many more people in the country to let them know that we have guys out there that are working behind the lines and in the shadows that do this every day.”

Five thousand contractors have been killed in 81 countries since 2001, according to “Oz” who’s played by Max Martini in 13 HOURS. The former Marines was “happy” to be an integral part of the process, and everyone from Bay, the actors and the behind the scenes personnel were dedicated to getting all the details correct. He was on the set talking to the actors as well as being available via email if they had questions.

13 Hours Movie Michael Bay John "Tig" Tiegen and Mark "Oz" Geist

John “Tig” Tiegen shared the sentiment and appreciated the effort by Bay to be accurate with the story and the scenes.

After the special presentation, we chatted with Bay and “Oz” during the reception. When CineMovie asked “Oz” if being on the set affected him at all, his eyes watered a bit as he recalled the harrowing experience in Benghazi with his team especially his two friends who didn’t make it back. It’s obvious from his demeanor the near-death experience and the loss of four Americans that night will forever haunt his memories.

13 HOURS stars John Krasinski, James Badge Dale and David Denman (“The Office”). The film is now playing in movie theaters.

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