Can Michael Bay do subtlety?

Transformers Age of Extinction

Famous for the Transformers franchise and the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, Michael Bay is reportedly in talks to direct and produce a movie about the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya.

While details are scarce, the movie will be based on the book ’13 Hours’ written by Mitchell Zukoff. In the book Zukoff retells the events of how on September 11th 2012 terrorists attacked the US State Department Special Mission Compound and the nearby CIA station, named Annex. Six American security personnel repelled the attackers to protect the Americans stationed there – going above and beyond the call of duty by performing extraordinary acts of heroism and bravery.

No doubt this represents a radical departure for Bay in terms of directorial style and content. Known for his saturation use of explosions, product placement and more explosions, commentators are already wondering how this adaptation will pan out. Bay is no stranger to action movies, but his political subtlety has never been particularly nuanced. ‘Pearl Harbor’, one of Bay’s biggest ‘political’ epics, was described by legendary film critic Robert Ebert as having ‘”no sense of history, strategy or context”. Is Bay up to the task of creating and directing a film so politically sensitive and still in the minds of most of America?

While this indeed represents a departure from Bay’s entire filmography, directors have been known to change direction and gravitate to more ‘serious’ films. Some actors change their tone completely and head into indie projects or much more different directions. Matthew McConaughey went from being a shirtless rom-com filler to a household name in the space of a few years, winning an Academy Award for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ only ten years after starring in How To Lose An Audience In 10 Minutes.

Perhaps Bay has had enough of robots, American flags and panoramic TNT money shots. Last year he directed the relatively low budget ‘Pain and Gain’, which almost showed an understanding of nuance as a concept, if not a reality. Perhaps this an indication that Bay is moving on to smaller, more intricate movies?

Currently budgeted at $40,000,000, 13 Hours would cost 70% less than the original Transformers. Something which should at least guarantee a lower epilepsy risk.