Movies / Politics / Reviews

MOVIE REVIEW: 13 Hours is an Intense Reminder there was Time to Help Our Ex-Military in Benghazi Whom Remained Heroic Despite Being Instructed Otherwise

13 Hours Main NEW

A smile was the farthest thing from my mind upon walking out of the theater for 13 hours.


For the better part of four years, Geek Outlaw has danced around the politics of politics. If that made as much sense as ex-convicts throwing a tea party, then you understand why I’ve tried steering clear of such a heated category of discussion. As you can tell, I’m no wordsmith nor am I a politician when it comes to expressing my own views, hence I’ve only dabbled with the divisive subject matter on rare occasions. That changes here, kinda… sorta.

Believe it or not, I’m slightly more interested in the governmental going-ons of the world around me than I address within Geek Outlaw. The reason being, I’ve always wanted (and still want) Geek Outlaw to be fun, light and humorous; specifically when it comes to taking jabs at myself. Alas, for 2016 I’ve made a personal proclamation to get a tad more topical and interject some extra political pop into my geek-based posts when appropriate. (Say that last part 10 times fast.) Although I will attempt to keep things as factual as possible, my own biases, values and beliefs are bound to seep through. Alas in the end This is my blog of course, CSPAN it is not.



Being I’m on the well-endowed side of the fence with regards to body hair, this is the ticket I’m backing.


It goes without saying this will most likely turn some readers off. However, with only three devout subscribers to begin with – my parents being two of them – I calculated the overall fallout to be rather minimal. Though it won’t be a shock to those who have [GASP!] read my past postings that I’m a pretty patriotic guy with fairly traditional values. Bottom line, I believe that we live in a country that provides the best opportunity for anyone to fulfill their dreams through hard work no matter their color, race, socioeconomic upbringing, religion, sexual orientation, age or preference of superhero. With that sleep-inducing diatribe out of the way, I present to everyone my first potentially controversial post that is my review of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.


13_hours Poster

It could be argued there’s more “hero” in their six pinkies than half the U.S. population.


For those that have been living under a rock without social media or a Starbucks WiFi hot-spot, 13 Hours is a true story based on the 2012 attacks made on the American diplomatic compound and adjacent CIA “Annex” facility in Bengahzi, Lybia. Often in Hollywood, the phrase “true story” is bandied about so often, I wouldn’t be surprised to run into movie goers whom thought Toy Story was based on actual events.

If you’re interested in an overview of the details without keeling over from boredom due to reading through thousands of pages of security intelligence so dry it makes California’s drought look like a the second coming of the great flood Noah’s Ark navigated, I’ll sum it up as objectively as possible. On the anniversary of 9/11 in 2012, Chris Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, made an impromptu visit to Benghazi, Libya, a location so dangerous, even James Bond would schedule a month-long enema rather than visit the civil war torn region.
My words still too dry? Try this newfangled thing called video instead.


Unfortunately, classifying military protection for Stevens as thin would be akin to calling Kate Moss overweight. Outside of a few glorified security guards, the closest thing to real military in the area were ex-military combatants working under the guise of a Global Response Security (GRS) team. The members ranged from ex-Marines to ex-Seal vets. There were only six of them.

The film focuses strictly on, and recounts the heroism of those ex-soldiers as they did everything in their power to prevent as many lives from being lost as possible. Unfortunately, Ambassador Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty, lost their lives during the attacks.

13 Hours is based on the 2014 book of the same name written by Mitchell Zuckoff and utilizes the first person accounts of Mark “Oz” Geist, John “Tig” Tiegen, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, three of the surviving ex-military contractors who defended the compound that faithful day.


Real Ex-Military

The real heroes of Benghazi, still alive and in the flesh… albeit barely. (Left to Right: Kris “Tanto” Paronto, John “Tig” Tiegen, Mark “Oz” Geist)


The crux of the controversy many of you may have heard about lies within two main points. One of the more contentious details being how the contractors were prepped and ready to travel to the annex significantly earlier than they actually departed, but were told to “stand down” by the deputy CIA chief at the facility. The CIA Chief (and administration) deny this order was ever given. The film eventually shows the men ignoring an eventually overwhelmed chief and leaving for the compound on their own volition. In this battle of “he said, they said”, picking sides may boil down to one’s own allegiances to the players on either side. Buckle up, because here’s where my biases rear their handsomely rugged head.

For starters, the author of the book, Zuckoff, stated he attempted to reach the CIA Chief in question in order to get a better picture of how the events transpired from all involved before even publishing the novel. The chief flat out refused. Barring the threat of being locked in a cell for 24 hours straight with Paris Hilton, for my money, not speaking up beforehand makes the CIA Chief’s claim after the book and film’s release more than suspect.



Organized pre-planned attack, anti-video protesters, or compound pool party? (HINT: It likely isn’t either of the latter two options.)


Hypothetically speaking, imagine me not wanting to be interviewed about being victim to a mass alien abduction where everyone was anally prodded. Nevertheless, several other members of the kidnapped witnesses chose to share their experience. They all claim they didn’t enjoy the experience at all and tried to escape all while I screamed out in joy as I simultaneously asked to stay on board longer for extended probing. Going back after the fact to say that’s not how it really happened just looks like a too-little too-late attempt at saving face (not that there’s anything wrong with enjoying a rectal examination from an extraterrestrial entity.)

Regardless of my inane made-up metaphor (and yes it IS a made-up), the substantive argument made by the ex-military contractors is had they not been told to “stand down” for at least 30 minutes, the probability of rescuing Ambassador Stevens would have gone up insurmountably. First and foremost, regardless of party affiliation, I’m a supporter of the men and women who serve this country and protect the freedoms we get to enjoy on a daily basis. As an annual volunteer of Operation Gratitude and contributor to organizations like Wounded Warrior, I know (family members included) and have met enough people who risk their lives without a second thought by serving in our armed forces. What’s more, they make sacrifices of almost certain death without the need for recognition and are often too humble to even accept a simple thank you. Thus, in the above war of words, I’m apt to side with the men who wore the uniform, not the ones in suits who often take credit for the others achievements.


Operation Gratitude

Regrettably, I never served as did some of my family, so I try to serve organizations that help support our troops in any way possible.


In my mind however, the most scandalous aspect of the entire terrorist attack – in addition to being the most infuriating – was the fact no meaningful support was sent to Benghazi after several requests before and during the attacks. Sadly, the late Ambassador Stevens had made more than a dozen appeals for more security at the compound which went unfulfilled. 13 Hours touches on the pre-attack requests briefly, but does make reference to all of the calls for help once the siege was officially underway.


13-hours-13 Times

Maybe the 14th time was the charm?


Understandably, sending a full on aerial squadron might have been a bit overkill, sadly, not even a low fly-by of a an American or American ally friendly military jet was sent to drive insurgents and their soiled underwear running in the other direction. Outside of an unarmed drone which reportedly had the camera quality of the first iPhone which sent information back at a delay of close to five minutes, almost nothing was done. The best the U.S. could muster was literally a handful of additional servicemen from Tripoli, which also ended up being a day late and a dollar short. The U.S. administration’s excuse? There wasn’t any substantial resources close enough to arrive to the scene on time. So what you’re telling me is that the most powerful military country in the world with embassies stationed all over the globe that can get a space probe to the moon in less than 9 hours and has military jets that could do a lap around the earth and still be home in time for lunch, was unable to provide any type of air assistance to our fellow Americans in a reasonable amount of time? Excuse me while I try to contact my anally curious Martian friends for a repeat performance

I’d be more apt to believe the reasoning if the U.S. powers that be at least attempted to send support, no matter how late it may have arrived. They didn’t send anything. As a adamant supporter of the veterans and those currently serving in our armed forces, the overwhelming lack of support from the executives in charge of calling the shots is arguably the most upsetting facet of the whole debacle.



Friendly fire tis not.


Speaking of executives, the film does keep its political distance from pointing fingers at the likes of President Obama, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other prominent faces in the mix during the melee. Also all but glossed over but for a few minor lines was the whole “video insta-reaction vs. planned attack” debate. In depicting the first-hand accounts of the contributing military contractors, it seems fairly clear that most, if not all of the attacks were planned out in advance to some extent.

Even the above mentioned responsible parties in charge have had a hard time getting their stories straight with regard to what has been said to the public, on news shows, over email and even to the victims’ family members. Their apparent go-to-defense of late has been to blame everything on “the fog of war.” At this point it’s a fog so thick, it makes London look like my bathroom after a hot shower. In general, for the past eight years almost everyone within this administration has had a hard time grasping the definition of truth, thus my faith in anything government on either side of the aisle pontificates these days is less than comforting.


I guess there was a little too much fog for Mrs. Clinton in this video, as she said it was a video that caused the attacks…

before saying it wasn’t a video and the families were wrong about her telling them it was caused by a video. Follow yet?


Justifiably, as I admitted above, my partially-political coming out party may have some fellow Outlaws turning in their spurs. No hard feelings either way, but this decision has been brewing within me for a while now, and 13 Hours ended up being the trigger (excuse the pun) to open up about some of the values that make the Outlaw who he is today.

Irrespective of your partisan persuasion, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a non-stop shot of intensity that will keep the audience riveted for most of the entire 144 minute runtime. As he has long proven, Michael Bay knows how to blow things up, and the constraints of a true story ultimately work in his favor here since he’s forced to stick to the facts with little room to over-blow (pun intended) the details. The performances by all involved are more than solid, especially the rare dramatic turn by The Office alum John Krasinski, who portrayed ex-Seal Jack Silva. More importantly, as the tributes of the lives lost and those who saved lives flashed across the screen prior to the end credits, it’s a staunch reminder that when it comes to those who protect our lives with their own, there is no such thing as “not enough time to try.”


5 Spurs



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *