13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (also known simply as 13 Hours) is a 2016 American biographical war film directed and co-produced by Michael Bay and written by Chuck Hogan, based on Mitchell Zuckoff’s 2014 book 13 Hours. Billed as being based on a true story, the film follows six members of a security team who fight to defend the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya after waves of terrorist attacks on September 11, 2012. The film stars James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini, Toby Stephens, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Freddie Stroma, and Alexia Barlier. Filming began on April 27, 2015 in Malta. The film was released on January 15, 2016, by Paramount Pictures. The film was a financial success, grossing over $69 million worldwide, and despite a mixed response, it stands as one of Bay’s best-reviewed films.
In 2012, Benghazi, Libya is named one of the most dangerous places in the world, and countries have pulled their embassies out of the country in fear of an attack by militants. The United States, however, still has a diplomatic compound (not an official embassy) open in the city. Less than a mile away is a not-so-secret CIA outpost called “The Annex”, which is protected by a team of Private Military Contractors Global Response Staff made up of former military special operations personnel. New to the detail is Jack “Da” Silva (Krasinski), who arrives in Benghazi and is picked up by Tyrone S. “Rone” Woods (Dale), a member of the team and a personal friend of Silva. Arriving at the Annex, Da Silva is introduced to the rest of the team and the chief (Costabile), who constantly gives the team strict reminders to never engage the citizens to avoid conflict with local militants in the area.
The U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens (Letscher) arrives in Benghazi to maintain diplomatic connections amidst the political and social chaos. Despite warnings, Ambassador Stevens decides to stay at the Special Mission with limited protection from a pair of Diplomatic Security Agents and guards hired from the local February 17th Martyrs Brigade militia nicknamed “17-Feb”. On the morning and the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Stevens notices suspicious men taking pictures of the compound and notifies his security detail. Back at the Annex, the GRS team communicates with their families and Da Silva finds out that his wife is pregnant.
That night, a group of Islamist militants from Ansar al-Sharia assault the compound. Unwilling to die for $28 a day, the local 17-Feb guards quickly surrender their posts, allowing the attackers easy access to the Special Mission compound. Scott Wickland (Giuntoli), a Diplomatic Security (DS) agent, takes Stevens and an officer, Sean Smith, into the safe room. Unable to breach the safe room, the attackers set the building on fire hoping to burn the men out. Wickland is able to escape but loses both Stevens and Smith. At the Annex, the GRS team desperately wants to go to the compound to help, but the chief refuses, fearing that the GRS team’s departure would leave the Annex vulnerable. Refusing to listen, the GRS team dispatches to the compound and meet up with the DS agents. Silva and Woods go into the building to try to find Stevens and Smith, but are only able to find Smith who has died from smoke inhalation. The team retreat back to the Annex. The team from the compound also follow suit, but after Wickland goes the wrong direction, they are followed back to the Annex.
Knowing an attack by the militants is imminent, the staff of the CIA Annex make several desperate calls for help. The only help they can get is from Glen “Bub” Doherty (Stephens), a Global Response Staff officer, who forms a team including two Delta operators that flies to Benghazi after several delays. Meanwhile, the GRS team fends off the militants as they try to breach the Annex perimeter late into the night. As the attackers regroup after failed assaults, the GRS team takes time to regroup as well, and the down time allows them to think about their families while considering the gravity of the situation. After repulsing the largest attack wave, the Annex receives word that help is en route, but before it can arrive, the militants launch a mortar attack that wounds one of the DS agents and kills both Woods and Doherty.
With the GRS team compromised, and the Annex now vulnerable, the remaining GRS operators watch as a convoy of vehicles rolls toward the Annex. Fearing the worst, the operators prepare to make a final stand, until it is revealed that the convoy is an element of the Libya Shield Force militia escorting the GRS reinforcements. They also find out that Stevens was found behind the compound, but was pronounced dead at the hospital from smoke inhalation. As the remainder of the team wait at the airstrip with the bodies of Stevens, Smith, Woods and Doherty, they reflect on the events that happened and how they will most likely receive no recognition for defending the Annex as they were off the books. Closing titles reveal that all of the members of the Annex security team received medals in a private ceremony and have since retired from the GRS team and live with their families.