Coming to theatres this week from director Michael Bay, writers Chuck Hogan and author Mitchell Zuckoff with Paramount Pictures is 13 HOURS: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
Jack Silva (John Krasinski) arrives in Benghazi, Libya meeting up with contact Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods (James Badge Dale). Together the two men return to the Annex where other security members live. Jack is introduced to Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto (Pablo Schreiber), Dave ‘Boon’ Benton (David Denman), John ‘Tig’ Tiegen and Mark ‘Oz’ Geist.
Jack also meets Bob (David Costabile), the Team Leader who is in charge of the Annex and the employees and seems to have a problem with the security staff. Rone eventually takes Jack to the Diplomatic Compound to become acquainted with its workings. There they meet DS Scott Wickland (David Giuntoli) who informs them that Ambassador Christopher Stevens (Matt Letscher) is coming.
The men stay ready and prepared as the Ambassador meets with his dignitaries. On the anniversary of September 11th however, both the Annex and the Compound are on alert. As the sun goes down and the day comes to a close and quiet settles on both areas. The Ambassador makes notes of the day and the security detail relax.
That is until armed militants viciously storm the Diplomatic Compound. DS Wickland grabs the Ambassador and tech Sean Smith (Christopher Dingli) taking them to a secure area in the building. The call goes out for help and is heard by the men at the Annex.
Jack, Tanto, Tig, Oz, D.B. and Rone gear up and prepare to go to the Compound. After a time of frustration, the men get in their cars and race toward the who need them. On his way is Glen ‘Bub’ Doherty (Toby Stephens) with more men hoping to reach the fight before it leaves the Compound and reaches the Annex.
What they find is a raging fire, angry militants and a long night with weapons that want to do one thing – end their lives. This is only the beginning of their 13 hours experience!
Krasinski as Jack Silva portrays a serious family man who knows the seriousness of his job. There is such a sincere feel as Krasinski takes this true character and embraces the portrayal of love of family and a brotherhood that would see him home again.
Dale as Rone gives such strength to this role. Tyrone Woods led his men into doing the most courageous thing for so many. Dale drew me in entirely and, for a moment, I forgot the ultimate sacrifice that was to come.
Schreiber as Tanto is straight forward, no censor and sharp witted – exactly as the man his himself. During our interview, Kris ‘Tanto” Paronto had mentioned that the actor portraying him picked up some of his idiosyncrasies and, after seeing the film, I’d agree with the straight forwardness. Schreiber gives the portrayal of Tanto the sharp edges with moments of quick humor.
Fumusa as John ‘Tig’ Tiegen seems the quieter of the bunch. Once the call goes out for help however, Fumusa facial expressions are not only serious but intense. In the scene where he goes inside the fire ravaged house looking for survivors, I discovered that I was holding my breath right along with him.
Martini as Mark ‘Oz’ Geist is equally a no-nonsense man who springs into action along side his brothers. From the fire fight at the Compound to being on the rooftop of the Annex protecting civilians under his feet, Martini gives his portrayal of Oz heart.
Stephens as Glen ‘Bub’ Doherty is a man who knows that help isn’t coming fast enough. With every scene Stephens is in his face grows darker with intensity and the feeling in the audience waiting for his arrival was palatable.
Letscher as Ambassador Stevens has a small role but important in the telling of the story. Jillani as Barlier is an irritating woman who has control issues but that changes with each passing moment during those thirteen hours. Grosse as DS Ubben gives his all when it would have been easier to stay secluded.
Costabile as Bob has the worst role of all – the man everyone will end up hating. I thought I was fairly prepared since reading the book but no, Costabile managed to make me just a flood more disgusted in Bob. Well done Costabile, I didn’t think it was possible!
A shout out to Peyman Moaadi as Amahl. I have seen this actor in the films A SEPARATION and CAMP X-RAY and he is amazing. In this film Moaadi portrays a man of Libya put in a situation where he also decided to do what was right.
Other cast include: Peyman Moaadi as Amahl, Mike Moriarty as DS Vincent, David Furr as DS Alec, Kevin Kent as DS Wesley, and Stephen Oliver as DCM Gregory Hicks.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give 13 HOURS: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi five tubs of popcorn out of five. Having the opportunity to read the book first I was truly looking forward to seeing the film. In between the book and film I had the opportunity to speak to men who lived both.
I can not begin to express how amazing these men are and this is one of those times when the words ‘thank you’ seem hardly fitting, it’s just not enough. In reading the book I can tell you I was in awe of every person who fought so bravely to save so many. In meeting Tanto, Tig and Oz I was humbled to listen to them speak and witness their friendship that moved my heart.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the film. Of course the usual Michael Bay jokes are heard round and about but I never paid any mind to them before so why start now. The three men told me they were happy with what Bay had done with their story and how it was portrayed on film and I must agree.
Bay took the story of those 13 hours and played it straight. I didn’t feel cheated or tricked into emotions that were not sincere. Yes there is shock in both the level of violence and death but also awe in the bravery and sacrifice I witnessed from book to screen.
This could have been a film wrapped up in the political mud slinging and finger pointing sometimes associated with true stories but this film isn’t. This is a film brought about by the men themselves who wanted everyone to know exactly what happened that night and in doing so honor those who did not come home.
That ladies and gentlemen is why 13 HOURS: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a film that must be witnessed, experienced and shared.
In the end – when everything went wrong, six men had the courage to do what was right!
For your chance to win a movie poster signed by Tanto, Tig and Oz please email firstname.lastname@example.org with HEROES in the subject line and good luck!