2015 was a record year at the box office, but the film industry in 2016 shows no signs of slowing down. The first potentially big film of the new year is the war movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, starring The Office's John Krasinski as a buff U.S. Navy SEAL. The movie is directed by Michael Bay, so you know there's going to be a lot of explosions, but what is the movie actually about? And more importantly, is 13 Hours based on a true story?
In fact, it is. The film depicts the events of the infamous Benghazi Attack, when militants set siege to two U.S. diplomatic compounds in Benghazi, Libya on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. The attacks resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith. More specifically, as implied by the film's title, the movie follows the story of the six largely unknown men on a security team in Benghazi, who took it upon themselves to defend the compounds on that night, as it tries to give a behind the scenes look at what they went through. So who were these guys, and what exactly was it that they did?
The film is based on the book 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff, which in turn was based off of interviews with five of the soldiers involved in the battle at Benghazi. Some of these soldiers, like John “Tig” Tiegen, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, Glen "Bub" Doherty, and Mark “Oz” Geist, are depicted in the film, while others have protected their identity with false names (like Krasinski's character, Jack Silva). The men wanted to tell what really happened at Benghazi because the attack has become such a hot-button political issue, and the soldiers involved wanted to make sure people saw past the politics and looked at the facts.
The six men depicted in the film were in Benghazi because they had been hired as private security for the CIA in the area; meaning they were independent contractors. Freelance security, if you will. They were made up of ex-Navy SEALS, U.S. Army Special Forces, and Marine Force Recon. In other words, they were very experienced military veterans from the most specialized and highly-trained branches of the U.S. armed forces. The best of the best.
The six happened to be stationed at the CIA Annex when the nearby diplomatic outpost, where the ambassador was, was attacked. They were ready to go and help defend their fellow Americans, but were told to stand down by their CIA boss. They waited until they heard a distress call from the outpost stating that everyone there would die if help didn't arrive. That's when the six decided to defy orders and take matters into their own hands, storming the outpost, repelling the militants, and preventing anymore loss of life.
The Benghazi issue has since become extremely politicized, and continues to be an issue in the 2016 Presidential election. But the men who were there only want the truth to be told without pointing fingers, and 13 Hours hopes to do just that.
Images: Paramount Pictures; giphy