13 January 2016

FWS Movie Review: 13 HOURS: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

On September 11th, 2012, the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by Islamic militias. This attack resulted in the death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. After the terrible events, the 2012 Benghazi Attack became a political football with the Right and Left using the attack for their own personal gain. In 2014, Mitchell Zuckoff wrote a book about the events called 13 Hours with the surviving members of the Annex Security Team. That book was transformed into this 2016 film directed by Michael Bay. I saw this on the larger-than-god big screen at AT&T Cowboy Stadium in Arlington at the red carpet premier for free on January 12th. This event was also a benefit for the Shadow Warriors Project.

How I Saw This Film...
As many of you may know, I live in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex, and it was advertised on local stations that the premier of 13 Hours would be at AT&T Cowboy Stadium and it would be free. My wife kept the kids, and I rolled up to "Jerryworld" (what we Texans call the new Cowboy stadium). I was shocked at vast number of fellow Texans that turned out to the event. Over 25,000 turned out and it was an awesome site. Many of the stars turned out on the red carpet that was on the football field, including John Krasinski, director Michael Bay, and three of the survivors of the actual annex security team.
The screen that the film was shown on is bigger than god. The screen is 160 feet wide by 72 feet tall and weight in at 1.2 million pounds. It was an unbelievable way to see this film with thousands of my closest friends. It was also an emotion experience with the actual survivors being cheered and chapping that thundered through the domed stadium. Truly one of the most unique and emotional experiences I've ever had seeing a film.

For those that are concerned that this film would be saddled with an political agenda or is a message movie out to assign blame to one political party, I can clearly say that those fears are unfounded. 13 Hours is a solid modern military thriller that is most likely Michael Bay's best film with brilliant direction, solid acting, and incredible visuals. 13 Hour is film with an crackling kinetic energy that reminds me of Black Hawk Down in both style and emotion. There is much more than just gunfire here, 13 Hours is a film about frontline intelligence, private military contractors, the chaos of Libya, and the fluidity of the modern battlefield. I was also impressed with the realism paid to the relationship between the security contractors and the CIA staff, along with the behavior and language of the PMCs. Overall, this film ranks up there with some of the best modern military films, and everyone in front of and behind the camera does A+ work to remember the fallen and honor the living. This could be one of the better movies of 2016,

There is very little I have to say negative about this film...which is more than I can say for The Force Awakens. But, there is three minor points. One being the scene where Islamic militias breach the compound and fired their AKs into an American film. Now, I am not saying that this did not happen, it most likely did, but it seemed too contrived in the movie and it cause an massive emotion outpour in the stadium. Second, the film is an emotional rollercoaster, like Black Hawk Down, but the very last of the film is a little flat and disorganized.
Now, it could be just from my hopped up emotions from the film, but it seemed more like Zero Dark Thirty and Tears of the Sun than Black Hawk Down. Third, is the marketing for the film. I am embarrassed to say that I knew little of the massive firefight that erupted on 09/11-12/2012, but according to the trailers for the film, it seems like a core six PMC security detail for Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens defended the complex against a horde of Islamic militants. That is untrue, and I wished the marketing made 13 Hours less like the Alamo and more like Black Hawk Down, where you do have an ensemble cast that tells the events around the central story from different points-of-view. I think this should have been reflected in the title as well, because 13 Hours is a rich tale of duty and honor.

There is nothing ugly about the film itself...but it is people's reaction to it that will be the ugly part. Seeing the film in the way that I did allowing me to see how people are using this film in a political manner, and that 13 Hours will be an political football for both sides to kick about. As I said above, 13 Hours is not an political film, and nor should it be treated as such. This is film is about the people there and their finest hour in the worst moments of their lives. Don't take away from that by cheapening this film with politics.

Should You See 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi?
YES! If you are fan of modern military thrillers like Lone Survivor, Black Hawk Down, Act of Valor, and Tears of the Sun, than 13 Hours is your kind of film and worth of your time. This is one of those films that needs to be experienced on the big screen with a theater with proper sound. Go see this and experience the emotion and the power of Michael Bay's best film. I plan on buying this on Blu-Ray and enjoying for years to come. Go. See. This. Film.

My Photos from the Premier at Cowboy AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas


  1. I had this on my no watch list because, I thought it was going to be politically motivated snuff film. Might actually check it out.

  2. are you going to do a movie review of either American Sniper or Tears of the Sun

  3. If you would like. I own Tears of the Sun and enjoy it and American Sniper...well. I think I will. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. I cried for a while after. Our country was founded by such great people and now we have this anti-USA impostors in DC. All of this murder and death and violence happened because of the narrative Obama (and Clinton) wanted to put out there....."I got Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda is on the run" was O's campaign slogan....

    1. the founder of the nation is just as human as today's politicians.. only they are seen by this rose coloured glassed , lionized into saints.. they just men in power.. same old same old..