Movie: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Benghazi, and Libya in general, are pretty much of a pesthole in Northern Africa. Nevertheless, when most other western nations pulled their diplomats out of the country, the United States sent in ambassador Chris Stevens (Matt Letscher) to set up a small diplomatic station in a very lavish compound left over from the Gaddafi regime’s glory days. Ambassador Stevens was a veteran career diplomat, and sincerely intended to find ways to mend fences with whatever remained in Libya of a governing body, and try to create the beginnings of a democratic government. For protection, Ambassador Stevens had two armed guards for the station.
Meanwhile, just a mile down the road as the crow flies, the CIA had their own super secret compound. How secret was it? Not even the US military was aware of their existence in Libya. In addition to about 30 CIA personnel led by “Bob” the CIA Station Chief (David Costable) doing secret spy stuff and watching for weapons, there were 6 contractor employees who were former US special forces types who were armed to the teeth. In a hostile environment like Benghazi, best to be prepared. Just picking up newcomer Jack Da Silva (John Krasinski) from the airport, Tyrone Woods (James Badge Dale) and Da Silva had to brandish weapons to force their way through a roadblock. Who were the armed men? Impossible to tell in Benghazi, the situation was just too fluid and complicated.
Then in 2012 the anniversary of 9/11 rolled around, and the US diplomatic mission was in trouble, serious trouble. And the only help in-country was the half dozen contractor warriors down the road in the CIA compound….
This is quite a good film, based on the book by Mitchell Zuckoff. It is supposed to be a relatively faithful account of what transpired on that fateful day in 2012. There is plenty of action, and the second half of the movie has a frenetic pace that keeps you glued to the screen. If all you have heard about Benghazi is the GOP blowhards who keep holding investigations, you would do well to see this movie. It is an eye-opener.
Dialogue Nuggets: “Payback is a bitch, and a stripper named Karma.”
Da Sila – “We got air support?” Woods – “We don’t have any f*cking support!”
Desk Jockey – “Truth is, there’s no threat here. We won the war for these people.”
Ambassador’s Security Guy – “This isn’t an embassy. It’s a temporary diplomatic outpost. I guess normal security measures don’t apply.”
Contractor Warrior – “State’s under attack. Let’s go!”
Contractor Warrior – “Listen up. None of you have to go. But we are the only help they have.”
CIA Chief “Bob”: “You are not the first responders! You are the last resort. You wait!”
Contractor Warrior to local military – “You called the attackers? How the f*ck do you have their phone number!”
Contractor Warrior to CIA Chief – “Tell Africa you’re calling from that classified base that they didn’t know existed one hour ago!”
CIA Employee Sona Jillani (Alexia Barler) to US Base – “My authority? If you don’t send help Americans are going to die, including the one you are talking to right now.”
Huh? What The….: Here’s the deal. Forget the political crap you’ve heard at Congressional hearings, especially the Republicans trying to make political hay out of a tragedy. The guys who really dropped the ball are the CIA and the Pentagon. What could the CIA be thinking to set up shop in a hostile country and not want their own military to know about it! Then letting Ambassador Stevens in-country with a two man security detail was ludicrous. As for the Pentagon, they are all about contingency plans for any scenario. But when the shit hit the fan in Libya, they were suddenly spit-balling about who could respond, and calls went out to American forces in Aviano Italy (1044 miles away), and Croatia (972 miles away). You would have thought something would have been ready to go in Northern Africa, since operations against terrorists are the main reason we have a Major Command located in Africa for crying out loud! Fifteen minutes after getting a call for help from Benghazi, special forces should have been loading onto choppers to kick ass.