160117poster13hours“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is a masterpiece: well-acted, riveting, engaging, exciting, inspiring, heart-breaking …

… and it should be the death knell of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The film is based on the book “13 Hours” by Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter Mitchell Zuckoff, written to tell the tale of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, by Islamist insurgents.

It’s told from the perspective of a U.S. quick reaction force stationed at a separate compound only 1 mile away from the attack. These true-life warriors of the CIA’s Global Response Staff, or GRS, reported they were told to “stand down” rather than aid the nearby Americans under fire.

As shots rang out and diesel-fueled fires lit up the night sky, the GRS team eventually decided to “stand down” no longer and stage a rescue. It was too late to save the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens, but when the Islamists targeted the second U.S. compound – home base to the GRS team – the small band of Americans held their ground and defended dozens of U.S. intelligence staffers against an overwhelming tide of gunmen.

It’s an amazing story of American military heroes and shockingly inept civilian oversight.

The film reinforces over and over that the men on the ground sacrificed everything to save lives, but the chain of command left these heroes out to hang. It’s absolutely stunning and reinforces with the power of cinema the anger many Americans feel over the Obama administration’s handling of the attack.

If this is a simply a piece of rightwing propaganda, it’s brilliant. But it was based on a book penned by a journalist from Boston and made by Paramount Studios in Hollywood, not exactly bastions of conservative thought.

And though I’ll grant it’s the story from only one point of view, as near as I can tell, the film (outside of some dramatic license) doesn’t mispresent what actually happened in Benghazi. This is based on a true story, based on eyewitness accounts, and doesn’t deviate significantly from those true events.

Which means Americans are going to watch this film, admiring the soldiers … and fuming at the secretary of defense, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not sending a rescue.

It’s true Clinton isn’t mentioned in the movie, and the film doesn’t suggest the “stand down” order came from anywhere higher up than the local level. But the movie does leave the question hanging over and over: The White House Situation Room knew the compound was under attack … and sent no one? The attack went on for over six hours … and planes were left on the ground? The Americans were crying out for their lives … and the administration didn’t answer?

Then the administration tried to blame it on phony “protests”? The movie reinforced over and over the cold, calculating and premeditated nature of the attack and the complete absence of any “angry crowd” protesting a YouTube video, such as the Obama administration lamely suggested later.

And who can forget Hillary Clinton in the investigations afterward – it doesn’t matter if it was a partisan “witch hunt” or not – shrugging her shoulders and saying, “What difference does it make?”

Watch these valiant Americans in “13 Hours” fight for lives, get left high and dry, then die because the administration was too inept, too corrupt or too apathetic to rescue our soldiers, then tell me, how can you possibly ask, “What difference does it make?”

"What difference does it make?"

“What difference does it make?”

"What DIFFERENCE does it make??"

“What DIFFERENCE does it make??”

Content advisory:

  • “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” rated R, contains over 130 obscenities and profanities, many hard, most unneeded, though it depicts the “rough” talk we expect from military movies.
  • The film has no romantic storylines, no sex scenes and no nudity other than shirtless guys. There are, however, several sexual references and lewd comments and a video depicted of two rabbits mating.
  • The film contains long sequences of warfare, including gunfire, rockets, explosions and more. It’s also gruesomely realistic in both sound and sight, with blood, gore, bodies being crushed and burned, etc. Late in the film, a character suffers a particularly gruesome wound and is repeatedly seen with a partially dismembered limb.
  • The film has many religious references, including both casual and earnest mentions of God and the Christian faith and Muslim prayers and prayer chants. Two scenes include earnest Christian prayer, while another character states he believes, “As long as I’m doing right, God will protect me.” A passing joke is made about karma. There is also a line spoken three times from the book, “The Power of Myth”: “All the gods, all the heavens, all the hells are within you.” This is spoken as though it’s somehow profound, but it’s never really expounded upon.

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