13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016) Film Review


At face value, this was a very enjoyable film. If I was to think too much into all of the emotion behind the film’s basis I would probably feel guilty for having that opinion, regardless, it was a good watch. I won’t describe what I saw as ‘hauntingly beautiful’ as that just comes off as extremely cliché, but how I felt when the credits began to roll was a profound ‘je ne sais quoi’. An indescribable feeling yes, but it was definitely not a displeasing one.

I have to admit, I was on the fence before seeing this film. I’m not that fond of movies based off true stories, ‘13 Hours’ being no exception. Despite this, I happened to see that this title’s director was Michael Bay, of whom I am a big fan. With this film’s premise centred around the true story of a group of ex­military operators tasked with the undesirable job of having to protect CIA agents yet to evacuate from a secret base in Libya, this scenario alone sets the viewer up for what’s to come. I think it’s also clear for all to see which direction the film is going to take.


We are started off with a bearded Jack Silva, (played by John Krasinski ­ who you may recognise as Jim from the US version of ‘The Office’), who is on a plane headed to Libya. Why? We soon find out. After landing, and taking a brisk walk through the lacklustre airport while being glared at by a number of individuals, he meets up with one of his ‘brother in arms’, Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods, (played by James Badge Dale), who is parked outside. After running into some minor trouble on their journey back to the base, they eventually arrive and we are introduced to the rest of the team: Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto (Pablo Schreiber), Dave ‘Boon’ Benton (David Denman), John ‘Tig’ Tiegen (Dominic Fumusa) & Mark ‘Oz’ Geist (Max Martini).

All hailing from some form of military background, they now work on contracts. Their current contract is to protect the CIA personnel at the aforementioned secret operating base as they gather a few final pieces of intel before they plan to abandon the base and return to the United States. I should include that the events of ‘13 Hours’ take place after all official embassies had been abandoned in Libya, so there was no real safe place for anyone.

As is expected, the situation turns sour as terrorists and militia groups attack a U.S. diplomatic compound. The attack occurs on September 11, 2012, and this film documents the 13 hours of hell that the soldiers for hire face as they struggle to defend the sole surviving CIA compound. To reiterate, this a true story based on the nonfiction book “13 Hours” by New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff and Members of the Annex Security Team. I may just have to pick it up, if it’s anything as good as the movie I’m in for a real treat.

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I won’t delve too much more into the plot. I must say, being a fan of the action genre, primarily those titles centred around ‘guns & ‘splosions’, ‘13 Hours’ left me both satisfied and stunned at the amount of adrenaline and suspense packed into the two and half hour screening. The cinematography was spot on, as expected of a Michael Bay film, as were the effects and firefights. Despite this title being a dramatisation of an actual event, it’s hard to comprehend what those soldiers actually faced. I am cynical by nature but even I dread to think about whether the events portrayed in the movie were exaggerated for effect or not.



While perhaps not as long as other reviews I have written, I am comforted by the fact that I needn’t say more a this title speaks volumes for itself. Disregarding the book and the true events the film portrays, in itself it is a well put together film and it is indeed worth a viewing, if not two.

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