© Paramount Pictures Germany GmbH

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
U.S.A. 2016

Opening 3 Mar 2016

Directed by: Michael Bay
Writing credits: Chuck Hogan, Mitchell Zuckoff
Principal actors: John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, James Badge Dale

The grueling militant stand-off in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, between Islamic Militant extremist and CIA security contractors is one horrific account for the US military annals, and one intense action-packed thriller for the silver screen. The real conflict truly lasted for a constant thirteen-hour period. To say it was intense is an understatement.

In 2012, Benghazi, Libya, was known as a highly dangerous and volatile area for Islamic militant attacks. Several countries removed their embassies from Libya out of fear and vital threats on the lives of civilians and government personnel. The United States kept their presence alive. A Special Mission Embassy (a downsized staff) was set up to maintain a diplomatic connection. A visual of a US presence would hopefully help to ease the tension from the surge of political and social unrest.

The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens (Matt Letscher) feels it is important to be present in the city as the 11th anniversary of 9/11 rolled around. Stevens decides to reside at the Embassy for the days he would be in town. He is aware of the secret CIA security outpost, known as The Annex, just a mile away and feels safe knowing it is an appropriate back-up if trouble arises. Stevens does not feel any imminent danger to himself nor his limited protective staff until he notices several locals taking photos of the compound and its activity. Stevens notifies the chief-of-staff at The Annex compound regarding the strangeness.

The Annex is protected by a team of Private Military contractors, called Global Response Staff (GRS). They get wind of the concerns from Ambassador Stevens and request permission to check it out. Permission is denied. Gunfire gets louder. The GRS ask to go help. Again the chief orders them to "stand down". Communication with Ambassador Stevens is lost. In a matter of hours the Embassy is in flames. Chaos breaks out.

Famed filmmaker Michael Bay and screenwriter Chuck Hogan use the book 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff as the premise and backdrop for their latest film debut 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Bay, producer and director of the film, collaborates with Hogan to bring honor where more-than-honor is due to the six-man team of CIA security contractors who either gave their lives to defend the Americans stationed on the two compounds or aged ten years from the stress of the combat.

The details of the showdown are controversial between the US government activities and the secret soldiers involved. Each has his story to tell. Actor John Krasinski, who plays Jack Silva, notes that the film is remarkably non-political but it capitalizes on the chaos. Krasinski says, "At 9:42 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2012, the security team got a call that Stevens’ security team needed help. The men geared-up raring to race to the rescue, but the CIA base chief -- in the movie version -- delays them. This is one of the biggest points of contention". He adds, "While congressional reports say that it didn’t happen, the soldiers say the crucial delay, about 20 minutes, crippled their rescue mission."

Bay and Hogan tell the sequence of events unfolded by Zuckoff. His writing is from the eyewitness account of the remaining Navy Seal, Marine Force Recon, Rangers and Army Special Forces veterans who survived. Their account is to honor four fellow soldiers who fought to their death. As Hogan describes, "When everything went wrong, six men had the courage to do what was right." All highly trained, the secret soldiers were under the radar. Their mission was not on the books. Stranded by their own government. The surviving soldiers would make sure the world would know the brutal details that cost their brothers their lives. (Karen Pecota)

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