Movie Review: Thirteen Hours

13-003The attack in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012, is one of the most mysterious and troubling incidents of the Obama administration. Discussion of it was a major issue also in the 2016 election, because Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during the crisis. There are a few major issues about this crisis. First, why wasn’t help immediately sent to the consulate when it was under attack? The House Select Committee, who investigated the incident, noted that no help was sent from America, even eight hours after the attacks first began. A month before the attack, Americans in Benghazi were deeply concerned about the level of security protecting them. People accused the State Department, of which Hillary Clinton was in charge at the time, of not taking the necessary measures to protect its assets in Benghazi.

Another issue is Hillary Clinton’s continued blaming of the incident on an Islamophobic youtube video. This was her way of accounting for the incident in public. But, in private e-mails, we see that she actually thought differently–that the attack in Benghazi was actually a planned attack by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. 2012 was a presidential election year, with Barack Obama squaring off against Mitt Romney in the hopes of getting a second term. The story of the Islamophobic video fits the typical liberal narrative nicely–Muslims are by and large great people, and people who criticize Islam are focusing on a fringe group that really isn’t representative of Islam. The people who criticize are actually responsible for inflaming terrorist attacks, fuelling recruitment.

This movie is mainly about the fighting that actually takes place in Benghazi. We get little glimpses of the inaction of the State Department. The team calls them, and repeatedly are disappointed by the lack of aid. Another interesting detail is how one of the leaders of the consulate keeps telling the Navy Seals under his command to stand down, even though the consulate was under attack and Ambassador Chris Steven’s life was at risk. Eventually, the Seals ignore his repeated injunctions and take over the operation themselves.

Michael Bay, the director of this film, wanted to keep the movie apolitical, so there is only passing hints of State Department inaction. We mainly get a lot of fight scenes. This is why I didn’t like this movie very much. Conservative commentators definitely tried to use this movie as a way to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. But, the movie lacks substance. It is just, for the most part, repeated scenes of violence.

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