Just been watching…(57)

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi (2016)

***This was a real event, so spoilers do not apply***

I confess I was totally unaware of this film, which was directed by Michael Bay. I happened across a late-night TV showing, and thought it might while away some time. I did recall the real events portrayed in the film though, the attacks on American installations in Libya in 2012, often called The Battle Of Benghazi. On the 11th of September that year, Libyan fundamentalist radicals began attacking the US diplomatic compound in that city, where the US Ambassador to Libya was staying overnight. They later continued the assault, switching to the supposedly secret CIA headquarters, one mile away.

Over the next thirteen hours, large numbers of determined attackers fought against the small number of security guards, state department officials, and CIA agents trapped in the buildings. They were heavily armed; using rockets, mortars, and tactical vehicles against the Americans. By the time the fighting was over, two private security guards had been killed, ten other Americans wounded, and the US Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, had also died, when the residence was set on fire by the attackers. An unknown number of the militants also perished, many mown down by the return fire from the defenders. These events are all true, and the film is based on the book by Mitchell Zuckoff.

Right from the start, the film gets into the action, as new arrival Jack Silva is collected from the airport by his old army friend, Tyrone. Jack has come to work for the private security firm that has been employed to protect the CIA agents still operating in Libya. The rest of that group are all ex-military, mostly from special forces units. Even before arriving at the base, the pair are trapped in the narrow streets by militant Libyans, and are lucky to escape alive. Jack gets to meet his new comrades, and discovers that most of the work is routine; driving and escorting CIA agents to meetings, and observing the actions of known anti-American elements in the city.

It soon becomes clear that it is impossible to know who to trust. Libyan guards employed to defend the gates of the missions are unreliable, the police are corrupt, and the members of the supposedly friendly ’17-Feb’ group of Libyan allies are indistinguishable from the enemy. The local CIA Head of Station dislikes the private security guards, and makes no secret of his disdain for them. News that the US Ambassador is coming to visit throws them into turmoil, as they do not have enough men to mount a proper guard on the residence, and protect the CIA HQ too. The Head of Station also dismisses warnings of a possible attack on the Ambassador, designed to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11.

Whe the main action starts, it is full-on indeed. I found myself holding my breath at times, as the tiny garrison fought against all odds, facing increasingly large numbers of enemy militants. They were everywhere and anywhere, as were us viewers, and the tension was so fully wound, I thought I was on those rooftops with them. That never lets up, either. Despite some pauses as the enemy regroups, and the Americans try to contact home on Facetime, or take a water and food break, it is action as you rarely see it, outside of a modern war film. Meanwhile, the CIA Station Chief finally succumbs to the pressure, and requests help from US forces, wherever they can be found. But the US government is reluctant to give them support, due to the complex diplomatic issues. No aircraft or helicopters are sent, despite the frantic appeals, and the troops on the ground are left to fend for themselves as best as they can.

This is a really relentless action film that often feels tiring to watch. Remembering at all times that these are true events, my admiration for the small group of Americans knows no bounds. The stress and pressure they were under has rarely been seen in modern times, and every single one of them stood up, and did what needed to be done. The 144-minute running time is barely noticeable, even allowing for some downtime, as the group discuss families and children left at home. This is an edge of the seat film in every way, and I recommend it for anyone who appreciates such dramas. Other than Toby Stephens, the British actor, I did not recognise a single member of the cast. That added to the realism, and was far better than stuffing it with famous stars.

It felt convincing and authentic from the opening scene. You can’t say that for many films, these days. I was really surprised by this film, and I think you will be too. Here’s a trailer.

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48 thoughts on “Just been watching…(57)

      1. I love when an action packed film or a great suspense is action packed!😍 I have a book idea that is based on a true story I loved that is a suspense that I told Kim about and she told me that you were a great author to ask advice and such with it. This was before we talked daily but I don’t think I can write a story but I guess with an editor and Kim saying she would be my beta reader I can try but I think if something is packed with suspense and can be based on a true story it makes it much more entertaining! I will definitely be checking out this film!😘 xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I thought it was rather good movie, but it had some of the predictable moments (missing family / touch on the ole heart strings bit) I found that annoying. If the British had made such a film it would have been raw to the bone. None the less enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You will have to take that up with Doug, GP. 🙂
      As I understand it, Clinton eventually took ‘responsibility’ for the fact that no help was sent. Too late by then of course. As far as I know, the film pretty much stuck to the real events, though no doubt some poetic licence occurred.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The Benghazi affair has been investigated and there was enough guilt to go around. You know what amazes me a bit.. Obama/Hillary haters loved that event as it appeared to make Obama & Hillary totally culpable and wrapped in some grand conspiracy to hide it from the public the size of Watergate. Well, the investigation didn’t reveal all that. In reality four Americans were killed.. two State department people and two CIA contractors. What appalls me more than anything is these four people got far more attention to their deaths than servicemen who died in our various interventions around the world… and by comparison got more attention than the 50+ people killed by the sniper in Vegas. So if you need to support your Obama/Hillary hatred to support Trump go for it, my friend; still a free country at the moment. Those four deaths, while tragic in the course of events as human beings who lost their lives serving their country… they were in fact in Libya, a known unstable and violent area.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All you say is true, except for the Obama/Hillary hate. True, I never trusted Hillary or Bill ever since their Whitewater case in Arkansas, but that’s another matter. And no one feels the pain of each loss we have in ANY country! I’m from a service family. I even lost my son as he served in the USMC during the first Gulf War – today would have been his 46th Birthday. So don’t ever try to pull that on me. You can take those investigations and put them in File # 13.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Had I known about your son I would have never even engaged you on the topic in reply to your remarks, GP. Such are the risks of engaging in the blogosphere; backstories are seldom known. So.. given that, you can certainly rest assured that as an American and a veteran myself during a period of another war… I salute your son’s service and his ultimate sacrifice. Regarding your loss as a father.. I will never fully understand how you may feel, especially on today, his birthday. Accept my apology for my ill-timed reply during a very special time for your personal grief. As a father of two boys, and even having conducted the funeral services of two fallen heroes (and many veterans) during my years in the funeral business, I only know OF the grief… and never experienced the grief you feel yourself.
          That said… my heartfelt condolences and utmost respect as you pass through this day.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I put this movie on my list for private viewing, as my wife has no desire for any type of war and violence action no matter how authentic and real ii may be. Your summary is so vivid and impressive that it felt like watching the movie, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I tend to be very critical of what is presented as a historical drama based on real events or a historical re-enactment.. and I actually have no issue with some fictionalized fill-in-the-blanks dialog or some human interaction or a back story. As I watched this film, I agree with you, Pete… nice action and held your attention. I only hope it was fairly accurate as I’ve not had any desire to get into the Benghazi nitty-gritty, although it seems the U.S. ambassador himself has to accept some responsibility in all this as he seemed to have had some arrogance in presuming his own safety in a nutty situation. This by no means suggests that the State Department didn’t have a role in the confusion. But.. good film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Doug. I recall the events, but not in the detail shown on this film. As I said, it was based on the later book. Because I am not American, I was able to view this as a ‘neutral’, which is perhaps why I enjoyed it so much. I am pleased that you agree it is a good film.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. I bought this film months ago and as with so many films I own on dvd, I still haven’t gotten around to seeing it. After reading your honestly quite gripping and very intense review for it, as well as the high words of praise I’m going to have to start watching this soon. As I am currently still in sci/fi and horror mode over on my blog, I hope to see his somewhere in March. It sounds awesome. Great post Pete 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like you, I have many films bought on DVD, and not watched. There are around 50, and some date back to 2013! But this film was shown on TV, on a free film channel, quite late at night. I was pleasantly surprised, and really pleased to have been in the right place, at the right time. I will be interested to read what you think of it, Michel. Send me a link, if you review it.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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