I recently had the opportunity to see the movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and later the opportunity to speak to one of the actual men on the ground, Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto. While I had done an earlier review for the movie I was amazed at the Old Testament style of Biblical ramifications of the story after my conversation with Kris.
The movie, directed by Michael Bay, is a terrific telling of the events that happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Despite the critics’ comments that the movie is boring, I found it quite the opposite. It kept me on the edge of my seat for over 2 hours, never coming to a boring moment in the film. I also realize many reviewers write for publications with political leanings and there is no doubt, this movie has had and will continue to have political fall out.
While I would have liked to have seen a bit more character development in 13 Hours, I felt it was adequate and the overall themes of what happened at Benghazi was in many ways more important. I was not surprised when Kris Paronto commented that he wasn’t a hero, despite the overwhelming majority of people who see the movie, know the story, insisting that he is in fact, a hero. Kris recognizes that his faith calls him to serve and that as a part of that service comes to a peace in knowing he will spend eternity with God, along with others who may have gone on before him, if he dies in the act of service. He and others like him, fully know what it means to lay down his life for another.
It is in the area of sacrifice that Kris hopes people will get something from learning about the real events that took place on that horrific night in Benghazi where Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 others were killed by an organized terrorist attack. The thing that stuck out from my conversation with Kris as well as presented in the film is the willingness of some to serve and risk their lives for others out of obligation and a desire to serve. It is in finding a purpose and a reason to live that we can ultimately do something of value, something that can take one beyond their expectations. For those who find that place, it can take you to the place where we may be called a hero. In my conversation with Kris, it was something else that came across though, there was an understanding of knowing that we can all be challenged to do, and be, that which God calls us to be.
As I contemplated after seeing the movie for the first time, (I have seen it twice now) I was reminded of how a group of men and women when called to do what God has called them to do can in fact, replicate the types of stories we read about in the Bible. Stories like making it clear that when standing on the side of God, we can overcome insurmountable odds and see the victories that God has for us. Thus was the case in Benghazi, a small group of contract, former military soldiers were able to accomplish the seemingly impossible. If not for the directives of men and women who had ulterior motives, much more could have been done. Unfortunately, as in the case we see in 13 Hours, those motives also took away from the truth of the entire story, thus taking away from the sacrifices and yes, heroism these men showed. Thankfully now, we can discover the real truth of what took place and the heroes that served and sacrificed.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is not a perfect movie. It is in my opinion, though, a very entertaining and thought provoking movie that will leave those seeing it upset when leaving the theater. As Kris pointed out, in a way that is a good thing because it means the true story of what went on for those 13 hours and then some has not been told and is now being discovered, for many, for the first time. I have followed the story since the event and will tell you there is much more covered in the movie than I knew. I have always enjoyed the entertainment value of Michael Bay’s movies but must say, not only is this his best movie, it is his most important work and I believe a must see for any person valuing freedom and those making the sacrifice to provide that freedom.
On a scale of 1 – 10 for the number of letters in the word “provoking”, I give a well-deserved 9 to 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
Watch the trailer: