Thursday, January 14, 2016

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

www.thevirtualpew.comLike most people in America, I had heard about the story of Benghazi on the news. One can’t help but escape the story from a political perspective. How does one determine who to believe? What is the truth? Were the attacks about a video? Was it an organized attack? I could go on and on as it seems the story has gone on and on. I was excited to see the movie for a simple reason, it was directed by Action Director Michael Bay, noted for such films as the Transformers series, Armageddon, The Rock, Bad Boys and numerous other films I have really enjoyed. To think that he would take on this true to life story, while at the same time, involving those who were there at the actual events gave me reason to believe, I could likely get much more truth about the actual events detailed in the movie than I would politicians and pundits who had something to gain one way or the other. After watching 13 Hours, The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi I realized, this particular piece would be as much an editorial as it would be a review of the film.

Benghazi is a city in Libya, the home of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Currently Libya is considered a fallen state with 1/3 of the state being controlled by ISIS as of this writing. We see images from the outset of the movie of the dysfunction within Libya as well as the fall of Gaddafi. We also see from the outset upon the arrival of one of the military contractors to Benghazi to be stationed at the CIA Station, approximately 1 mile from the US Consulates Office where United States Ambassador Chris Stevens was located. We see this soldier’s connection to his fellow soldiers, as well as to his family back home in the United States. We also see the compound where United States Ambassador Stevens was located having at best lackadaisical protection, low numbers of qualified men to protect the compound with not enough firepower. We also see the involvement of insurgents and others where little background and dependability on them was in place.  It was clear that Stevens was well liked among many of the Libyan people and that he had their best interest at heart, it was also evident upon his death in the number of Libyan people who stood up to protest his death. Please note, while some may consider this a spoiler, I am assuming most reading it are well aware of the death as it has been major political news and a point of discussion for several years now.

www.thevirtualpew.comWhile 13 Hours does not delve into the political discourse on this movie, we do see the role, and clear lack of understanding of the situation by those in authoritative positions. I am aware that I need to be careful with my language but the movie does a terrific job of detailing the complete cluster f**k that was taking place in Benghazi and amongst many political figures who oversaw the operations of a militaristic need. From the opening scenes of 13 Hours until the closing moments, the viewer is on the edge of their seats, questioning outright the decisions that are being made by politicians and administrators having no understanding of the sacrifices being made and the consequences that could result from their lack of understanding. It is also clear that those involved with the making of this movie, including those on the ground at the time, believe that there were organizational efforts being made to make the attack on Consulates office and more prior to the attacks taking place. It was not as reported, and referenced in the movie, the result of a movie which was promoted from within the White House and others in Washington for some weeks after the event. Now we know that lies were told in this and that is a shame and disgrace to those who so valiantly fought to protect American and Libyan lives who served. What is not clear as of yet, is why those lies continued for so long and the purpose of those lies unless it was an attempt to escape one’s own culpability in the lack of understanding the situation.

One of the terrific things Michael Bay does in his direction and screenwriter, Chuck Hogan who based the screenplay off of the book written by Mitchell Zuckoff, (with the collaboration of those who served and fought during the events) was to tell a story where we feel for those serving and their families. The CIA Contract workers consisted of men who had extensive military training and experience from The Navy Seals, The United States Marine Corps, The United States Army Rangers and Special Forces. I was surprised at another concept that was included in a movie, dealing with such intense scenes and horrific terrifying experiences, that is, the use of humor. That comes about and is a tribute to the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Services. Their humor and the way they look at the battles and conflicts they are engaged in when their life is on the line shows something about their fortitude. It also shows though that one of the only ways to get through the battles they face, knowing that they could and in some cases likely will die while thinking of their families back home can only be dealt with in many ways with humor. As a result, we see what I believe to be an accurate representation of the men and women who have and do serve as well as the way they live their lives.

www.thevirtualpew.comOne of the things about 13 Hours that makes it work is the amazing acting, filming sequences, editing, sound and more. In my opinion, this is the best work from a Director I have always enjoyed, Michael Bay. As far as I am concerned, with the seriousness of getting this story right, it is clearly the best work Michael Bay has done. Not only is this his best movie, I consider it a must for any American who truly value freedom, or for that matter anyone who values freedom. 13 Hours shows the courage and sacrifices many make to insure the freedom so many take for granted.

Now for another bit of editorial comment. The movie 13 Hours is being heavily promoted in Christian circles, let me be clear about something I seldom do in my reviews. This movie is rated ‘R’ for very good reasons. There are graphic scenes of violence, coarse language, (as one would expect with some military personnel.) There is also crude sexual oriented jesting. One of the issues I had was the way this is being promoted to some extent within the Religious, Christian Community and the encouragement of a blend of a Nationalistic Religious movement in the promotions. I personally find that to some extent, offensive as my faith is to my God and while I appreciate, love and value my country, the marriage of politics and faith often results in a compromise of faith, at least in my observations. This isn’t just a phenomenon amongst the Religious Right but also amongst those who have Leftist positions. That isn’t to negate the importance of this movie, it is to say however, that one needs to draw clear distinctions between the responsibilities of the follower of Jesus and the responsibilities of those in Government and that of Nations. Individuals like myself who considers myself a follower of Jesus should also be concerned when those responsibilities clash or are not fairly and honestly represented. That concern should certainly come about when politicians and others are less than honest in their reasoning and responses that include dishonesty.

www.thevirtualpew.comI have friends on both extreme sides of the political aisle, that said, the issues that occurred in Benghazi should be addressed and looked at in a fair and honest way. This movie cannot be ignored, it is in many ways, more than just a movie. When it comes to those who serve on the front lines protecting our freedoms, whether they be to dissent, free-speech, practice of faith, or even disagreements, I would say, "Make a point to see it because, 'it matters,' and will matter to those in the future, serving in harm’s way as to who their Commander and Chief is. It is in the area of politicians making decisions that impact the lives of those serving be they Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Red, Black or White and those they are called to protect that we see the great failures of Benghazi and understand, this is more than just one political side against another, it is a matter of doing what is right and in the best interest of all people. Those who gave their lives trying to protect the Compounds at Benghazi, and those serving at risk of life, bodily injury and the impact on families left at home deserve that respect as do all of those who have made these sacrifices.

There are moments of courage that we see represented in 13 Hours that should challenge all of us to be courageous. There are times we see the importance of standing up for something you believe. That should of course be done with integrity and honesty, especially if we value that which we stand up for. We see that in 13 Hours not just amongst Americans, we see it amongst Libyans who love their country, their faith and clearly stood up against those making the attacks and seeking to obtain power within their country. Unfortunately, as time progresses and moves on, it seems as if the bad guys are winning the war in Libya, and at times, one has to wonder if they are not winning globally. There were those in Libya during the 13 hours of the Libyan/American Consulates Crisis that sold out to the almighty dollar. There were clearly those who were more concerned about their own reputation than they were doing what was necessary to protect lives. It was clear that there were those who were so concerned with political correctness that their own political correctness cost lives. It is also clear though, that one has to evaluate where they stand individually, what freedoms they respect and appreciate and who they want representing those who are on the front lines standing up for those freedoms. We can if you will, have grandiose wonderful ideas that things will work out and we don’t have to be involved in such decisions, decisions involving honesty, integrity and so forth, but those grandiose ideas are often foolish and ultimately will allow those who want to kill ever bastion of Western Civilization to win. The question is, can we, will we be motivated to stand up for what is right, especially when it comes time to listening to those on the front lines fighting those battles that would seek to do harm to all of us, whatever that conflict and battle is about?

www.thevirtualpew.com13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi isn’t a perfect movie. It could have delved a bit more into what causes the hatred some have towards America, it could have answered a few more questions but in the end, the movie is a 2 ½ hour representation of what happened during a specific time and period. There is some background which is good, I would have just liked to see a tad bit more. I do appreciate the reality that it does not make all Muslim people look bad, it shows many in a favorable light and with a great deal of respect. There are certainly enemies though, those on the ground with a Radical faith who would kill and destroy but also, those with a Radical political agenda who would kill and destroy. I left the theater feeling that one enemy is just as dangerous as the other. Many will take issue with that but it is what I felt and I believe many others felt.

This is a movie that every Freedom Loving American should see but not just Freedom Loving American, but any soul on who values the freedoms they have. I don’t believe it is a propaganda piece, I believe it is instead, as accurate a representation of what actually took place as we who have watched the news, read the stories, will get. I believe it is because those who were there are telling their story, and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is in reality, their story but not just their story it is also the story of the failures that took place then, and since then from a political perspective and agenda.

Ono a scale of 1 – 10, for the near perfect movie going experience that shows the power movies can have, I give a very deserving and thought provoking 9 for the number of letters in the word, provoking. 

To see the trailer for the movie, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, just click on the video below, if there are problems, click on the following link:


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