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

Welcome to your first time being featured on CGB, Michael Bay.  Let’s see how Mr. Bay handles a real-life tragedy.

This is my review of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi!


On September 11th, 2012, the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by radical Islamic militants.  Among the casualties were Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith.  13 Hours is the cinematic account of the horrific night through the eyes of the six-man security team that fought to defend the compound against the militants.

The Hits
I like how the film uses the mundane happenings of the early morning hours of September 11th to create a sense of tension and unease.  We are given subtle hints that things are about to go wrong; two Libyan civilians are seen taking pictures of the compound, the main characters are told that the compound is a temporary holding base that was not meant for the Ambassador to reside in, and other seemingly minute setbacks are used to indicate that all will not be well.
John Krasinski and the five other men have great chemistry and are believable as a band of brothers determined to protect the Ambassador and survive the night.  I like how the six men are ex-military who have signed on to provide security as private contractors.  As such, while they are more than equipped for this task, they and the CIA operatives they are assigned to protect are not, technically, supposed to be there.   This creates a vulnerability factor that makes the audience root for our protagonist.  If the protagonist is indestructible, why would you care?
The chaos is well-handled.  Though there is some reliance on shaky-cam, the action is believable and you can feel their panic mounting in your own racing heart.  Although no one was named, it was made clear through the dialogue that multiple pleas for help were sent out, but no one ever came, leaving these men to fend for themselves.

The Misses
At times, the action was overwhelming.  Granted, I have no doubt that the people involved were stressed beyond belief and the night did feel like a hellish eternity, but this can create viewer fatigue; hence audience disengagement can set in.   In addition, this movie goes crazy with the J.J. Abrams lens flare to where it gets distracting.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a disturbing film simply because it illustrates the consequences of government ineptitude and the desperation of men valiantly fighting to save the lives of others at the risk of losing their own.
I ask that you keep our men and women in uniform in your prayers.  What they have to endure to protect the freedoms that we enjoy cannot fully appreciated by civilians who have never known the Hell of combat.

Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.

2 thoughts on “CGB Review of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

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