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Movie Review: 13 Hours is red meat for conservative base

Movie Review: 13 Hours is red meat for conservative base

We have the finest men fighting for our country, and we don’t have their backs

Warning: Spoilers

I can’t call myself an aficionado of action flicks, so I’m not sure where where 13 Hours falls within that genre.  I did find the movie intense, the lead parts were masterfully played and it offered plenty of food for thought.

It might be red meat for the conservative base, but in terms of pure propaganda value, in terms of effect on those who don’t study politics closely, 13 Hours falls short.

The movie follows six veterans, now contractors, providing security for the CIA outpost in war-torn, terrorist-infested Libyan town of Benghazi.  On one hand we have bravery, camaraderie and leadership of men like Jack Silva and Tyrone Woods, played by John Krasinski and James Badge Dale respectively, and on the other –stupidity and indifference bordering on betrayal everywhere they turn.  The American team was abandoned by the key local allies, denied adequate resources by its own country and when they needed rescue, help was too slow to come — you know the story.

Tyrone Woods (James Badge Dale)

Tyrone Woods (James Badge Dale)

The blame for the death of four Americans in the hands of the terrorists is never explicitly put on the the highest echelons of government.  Apart from the single sentence “The POTUS is briefed” superimposed over the picture of the White House, nothing assigns the responsibility for the death of four Americans to the president.  Something tells me if it was a Bush White House, the filmmakers would find a way to make it abundantly clear where the buck stops.

Although Ms. Clinton’s name is never uttered, the oil industry lobbyist Sona Jilliani (Alexia Barlier) initially established herself as a Hillary archetype.  The character is a blue-eyed, Harvard-educated resident of the CIA compound, always on the verge of striking some sort of a deal and always berating the men who risk their lives to protect hers.  But Jillani redeems herself towards the end and, in any event, the Hillary connection, if intended, is in no way obvious to a mainstream viewer.  Because 13 Hours steers clear of partisan politics, it is a better, much less heavy-handed film than it would otherwise had been.

Sona Jilliani (Alexia Barlier)

Sona Jilliani (Alexia Barlier)

There is, in Russian tradition, the “bad boyars/good tzar” belief system.  The boyars, or medieval nobility, are deemed responsible for everything that is wrong with people’s lives but the tzar, sitting at the top of the power pyramid, is absolved of guilt.  This explains most of everything about Russia including the current Stalin vogue.

This is a different time, different country, but in 13 Hours, the Security Team, again and again, is shunned by, for the lack of a better term, the mid-level management.  A low information person will probably walk out of the movie placing most of the blame on the chain of command.

Much of the media debate centers on one particular “boyar”, the CIA agent who gave, the Security Team says, the stand down order to Tyrone Woods, the order he eventually disobeyed going ahead with the consulate rescue mission.  Now the CIA says no such order was issued –and the story made headlines on Drudge last weekend.  Personally, I believe the Security Team because a) character and b) otherwise the whole story makes little sense.

A more important story was new document came to light at about the same time; it points to the culpability of Barack Obama and the State Department.  Turns out, Benghazi rescue mission was interrupted because proper clearance was never obtained.

To be sure there is enough blame to go around.

Plenty of disillusionment too.  And it’s pretty clear that, in the motion picture at least, for Silva and Woods the disillusionment crept in long before the men got to Benghazi.  We have the finest men fighting for our country, and we don’t have their backs.  Something to think about this November.


The author writes the blog Sitting on the Edge of the Sandbox, Biting My Tongue and occasionally posts at Legal Insurrection. She is an American citizen and a native of Kharkov, a Russian-speaking city in what was, when she was growing up, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.


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The not-naming of Hillary and Obama eliminates the “partisan propaganda” attack (which will still happen, but ineffectively. See VRWC attack on the Obama IG on emails). By sticking to the facts, it’s actually a more effective indictment of Obama, Rice, Hillary, ValJar, et al.

That’s true. American conservatives or simply “Americans” honor the spirit, strength, and dignity of individual men and women who retain their integrity while struggling for life in the face of overwhelming odds.

Richard Aubrey | January 24, 2016 at 9:30 pm

A point here: When things are getting going and there is some talk among higher command about “spinning up”, we see very quick shots of paratroopers manning their aircract, an F16 flightline looking busy.
Then nothing.
And, later, at just the right moment, a few seconds’ shot of an F16 flightline in the moonlight with nobody around and nothing moving.
Call it cumulative ten seconds to hammer home the question “WTF?” You can’t miss the question, even if you knew nothing about the issue whatsoever before that.

I suppose, from the idiocy of the author’s main point about “propaganda”, he/she is a Dumbocrats. Who but an ideologue would insinuate that 4 brave Americans and one scared ambassador would ever be used for a crass political motive. If this was really supposed to be a “movie review,” it missed the entire point of the film. Sir/Madame, leave fighting for American values to the pro’s and go fawn over Hillary, please!

Saw it over the weekend and thought it was a fine action movie. A lot of gritty, steady cam action, very much in the mold of Ridley Scott’s “Blackhawk Down”, although not quite as well done.

My take on the blame for the disaster is that the movie heaped it on both the local CIA station chief (for the delayed response to the local consulate, resulting in the death of Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith) and the Leadership in W,DC for failing to authorize a timely military airstrike (which is depicted as ready to go in the movie), resulting in the death of Contractors Rone Woods and Glen Doherty.

I highly recommend watching this movie.