Michael Bay, the four-time "Transformers" helmer, has long been a purveyor of militaristic action draped in apolitical big-budget fantasy. For his next directorial project, however, Bay could be applying his flair for pyrotechnics to an overtly political movie as he recounts a controversial chapter of recent history.
According to multiple trade reports, Bay is in early talks to direct the Benghazi drama "13 Hours" for Paramount Pictures, based on Mitchell Zuckoff's nonfiction book of the same name. (The studio declined to comment on the reports, and a representative for Bay's agency did not immediately reply to a request for comment.)
Chuck Hogan wrote the script for the film, which is to chronicle the terrorist attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, and a nearby CIA compound the next morning. The assaults left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Zuckoff's book focuses on a team of six security operators who fought to repel the attackers, providing evidence, at least to some, that the U.S. could have done more to prevent the tragic events.
Bay certainly knows a thing or two about white-knuckle action, and although he specializes in larger-than-life spectacles, he has made a couple of films inspired by real events: "Pain & Gain" and "Pearl Harbor."
"13 Hours" sounds like a different beast, though. "Pain & Gain" was based on a 1990s Florida crime spree that intrigued but never quite captivated national attention, and "Pearl Harbor" was a glossy melodrama made at a safe historical remove of 60 years.
The repercussions of the Benghazi attacks, on the other hand, are still reverberating in today's zeitgeist.
Given how charged the events have become, it's almost impossible for a filmmaker telling the story to reconstruct the events without satisfying one side of the debate and alienating the other. Bay could soon find himself on a very different battlefield.