Joining the ranks of John Krasinski (Aloha, TV’s The Office) and Pablo Schreiber (Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black), Max Martini – best recognized for his steely turn as Herc Hansen in Pacific Rim – is in talks to sign onto Michael Bay’s new project 13 Hours, according to a Variety exclusive. If the deal happens, Martini will play one of six security men present during the 2012 attack on a U.S. State compound in Benghazi (see more plot details here).
This dramatic role poses an opportunity for Martini to continue playing strong and deadly serious characters like Herc Hansen and the SEAL commander in Captain Phillips; for Bay, on the other hand, this seems more like uncharted territory.
Bay (Transformers, Pain & Gain) carved out a career for himself in the 90s directing and producing adrenaline-junky entertainment like Bad Boys (1995) and Armageddon (1998), steadily gravitating towards melodramatic, epic film fare like Pearl Harbor (2001) at the turn of the century. Eventually Bay settled into his calling in 2007 with a movie called Transformers, and a series of loud and fast cars/robots/machines came tumbling into Hollywood like exploding clockwork.
13 Hours, however, stands as a contrast to Bay’s typical work, as both director and producer. Adapted from Mitchell Zuckoff’s novel of the same name by Chuck Hogan (The Town, The Strain), this screenplay might hue closer to a proper drama than an action tale. Although the story may naturally contain the theme of patriotic heroism found (without subtlety) in most of Bay’s productions (see: Transformers 4: Age of Extinction for a recent example), the plot does not involve a fictional troupe of über-hybrid heroes facing an alien enemy. Instead, 13 Hours is based on a true story of a terrorism attack on American citizens on foreign soil.
Despite the genre jump, the upcoming film shares similarities with Bay’s 2013 crime thriller Pain & Gain. Both movies are based on true events, and both productions received a notably smaller budget ($30-$40 million for 13 Hours) compared to his ongoing Transformers franchise ($200 million for Age of Extinction). Pain & Gain, however, was criticized by the real-life crime victim Marc Schiller, who says that Bay “got the personalities of all the main characters wrong.”
Whether or not Bay will tease out the psychological drama of the character-driven plot, or choose to remain in comfortable territory with his trademark loaded action sequences, can only be determined in time.