[guest post by Dana]
I have been trying to write a proper review of the new film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, based on the book by Mitchell Zuckoff and screenplay by Chuck Hogan, but have been unable to pull it together. I attribute that to still being overwhelmed by it, as it is quite simply, that fine of a movie. Gripping, harrowing, agonizing, and heroic. It’s all of that and more.
As I sat in the packed theater, I watched the events unfold on screen with a silent dread because I knew I wasn’t just watching a piece of fiction created up by some Hollywood screenwriter, or something based on a true story, but was, in fact, watching the true story of what happened that fateful night in 2012. And I knew how it would end.
Further, knowing how those ultimately responsible for the safety of Ambassador Stevens and the Americans at the CIA compound dodged and lied to the public concerning the attacks, made it that much more difficult to watch.
While the film is not political in the sense that it doesn’t specifically mention Hillary Clinton or President Obama, there are several exchanges between characters that raise the vexing questions we’ve repeatedly asked: Why was there no assistance provided to the team of operators as they tried to save the ambassador and tried to fight off repeated attacks by Al Ansar and Al Qaeda terrorists (and with that, *why was the stand-down order given?)? Why wasn’t there enough security assigned to the ambassador when it was quite obvious his geographical location, and the residence itself, were both extremely unsafe and dangerous? And why were the attacks blamed on a video? The moments were enough to enrage viewers all over again.
Now briefly: the lead characters are superbly brought to life by very skillful actors, especially John Krasinski (Jack Silva) and James Badge Dale (Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods), who fleshed out their characters so well, both as operators in a very dangerous place and as family men, that as a viewer who already knew the ending, I nonetheless was willing all of them to survive the night so they could make it back home. The surrounding characters are equally well acted, and if an intense loathing of a character is an indicator of acting abilities, David Costabile’s turn as CIA annex chief “Bob” takes the cake.
Everything, from the taut writing, stellar acting, locations, sound, and urgent tempo of the film worked to great effect.
Yesterday on CNN, Jake Tapper asked Hillary Clinton if she planned on seeing the movie. Clinton answered that she was too busy campaigning. But now having watched the movie, I think that no matter how much Clinton keeps trying to convince the American people that she is a serious and worthy candidate, if enough people see the film, there is little doubt that the true story of what happened during those 13 hours of chaos in Benghazi will undoubtedly impact her chances for the presidency. She should be very concerned. Even those generally supportive of Clinton have referred to it as the movie Hillary Clinton doesn’t want you to see. And for good reason.
I think this is an important movie. As someone who was fairly well informed about Benghazi before seeing the movie, and now having watched it play out on the big screen brimming with raw emotion and intense sights and sounds, I can say that it has made everything all the more real and impacting. It sounds silly, but it evoked an emotional response on a different level having a face to go with the name and a serious visual taste of the awfulness of that night. Consider how much more the impact might be to those with just a “network news” level of knowledge about Benghazi. Finally, seeing what really happened contrasted with the claims made by the State Dept. and the White House, one is aghast (all over again) by the outrageous dishonesty. Especially the dishonesty of Hillary Clinton. The woman who wants to be our next president.
I’ll just note, too, that in reading several reviews of 13 Hours from mainstream media outlets, one might suspect there is a move afoot to quickly dismiss the movie and get it out of the public eye as quickly as possible. Now, why do you think that might be??
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
Directed by Michael Bay
Rated R | 144 minutes
Go see it.
*Do not miss David French’s excellent piece on the “stand down order” in Benghazi.