Michael Bay may be officially handing off his crowd-pleasing but critically panned Transformers for weightier fare: a film about the 2012 attack on US diplomatic and CIA compounds in Benghazi, Libya. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety report that Bay is in talks to direct a film adaptation of 13 Hours, a recently released account of the Benghazi incident that ended with the deaths of a US ambassador, a State Department official, and two CIA operatives.
Unlike Bay's massive Transformers films, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, 13 Hours will supposedly have a budget of $30 to $40 million, taking it out of the range of huge Hollywood blockbusters (for comparison, Gone Girl's budget was around $60 million; Bay's last non-Transformers film, Pain & Gain, was made for $26 million.)
13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi covers extremely contentious ground: "Benghazi" has become a shorthand for US Republicans' accusations that President Obama's administration failed to (or, at the conspiratorial end, chose not to) respond to distress calls until it was too late, and that CIA operators were told to "stand down" when they received news of the attack. Hillary Clinton has called the incident her biggest regret during her time as Secretary of State.
The book, according to reviews, at least partially supports that latter charge — it's written with input from five security contractors who survived the attack, who are credited as co-authors on the work. Like the book, the movie isn't likely to cover the larger controversy, just their minute-by-minute account of the attack. And Bay himself has proved more than willing to turn real-life events into lighter action movies, to the point of angering a real-life victim of torture whose story was loosely adapted into Pain & Gain. Whatever he comes up with, if Bay ends up directing 13 Hours, the response could be as intense as his trademark explosions.