13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
This film is directed by Michael Bay (Transformer films) and is written by Chuck Hogan, based on the book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff and the Annex Security Team (five of the survivors of the attack at Benghazi). The film is intense from the very beginning as Benghazi is one of the most dangerous places in the world after Muammar Gaddafi has been removed from power. The film gave me a sense of being right there in the tense environment.
Jack Silva (John Krasinski from The Office) is a former Navy SEAL, now working as a contractor with Global Resource Solutions (GRS). He joins his old friend Tyrone “Rone” Woods (James Badge Dale), along with John “Tig” Tiegan (Dominic Fumusa), Kris “Tanto” Paronto (Pablo Schreiber), Mark “Oz” Geist (Max Martini) and Dave “Boon” Benton (David Denman), who have been hired as drivers and guards for CIA personnel, led by the CIA outpost chief Bob (David Costabile), in a tense Benghazi. Bob makes it clear that the GRS personnel are second class citizens in the outpost.
The film is set in September 2012. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens (Matt Letscher) arrives and stays at the nearby diplomatic compound, which has inadequate security protection, given the tense atmosphere in Benghazi. On September 11, a heavily armed mob of Islamic militants storms the American embassy in pursuit of Stevens. Bay effectively portrays the confusion that takes place during the attack. The GRS team knows that Stevens has only two security personnel and will not be able to hold off the attackers without assistance. But Bob refuses to let them go to the compound to rescue the ambassador and his personnel, instead giving them a direct order to “Stand down”. Finally, as they see the fire coming from the compound high in the Benghazi sky, they take off on their own to try to save the ambassador. As they do so, part of the confusion is not knowing for sure who is on their side and who the enemy is, and assuming incorrectly could cost them their lives. But surely Bob will be requesting U.S. assistance to help with the attack and they will be arriving soon. Surely.
The film also shows the personal side of some of the GRS personnel, showing them communicating with their families back home as they bravely try to save the ambassador and then defend the not so secret CIA facility from the attackers.
The film is rated “R” for much war violence (gunfire, bombs, blood), and a significant amount of adult language. Although Bay could have made political statements with the film, he instead focuses on the amazing bravery of the “secret soldiers” from GRS and their willingness to sacrifice their lives for Ambassador Stevens and the CIA personnel.