'13 Hours' Benghazi movie gets rave reviews from conservatives

13 hours poster
"13 Hours' movie is about the Benghazi attack.

If "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" triumphs at the box office this weekend, it might go down as a "Fox News blockbuster."

That's because the Michael Bay directed film has drawn enormous acclaim from the network's hosts and pundts.

During a spot that aired during the NFL playoffs this weekend, an ad for the movie interspered shots of intense gun battles with rave reviews -- not from movie critics, but from right-leaning commentators.

Stephen Hayes, a senior writer for the conservative Weekly Standard and a Fox News contributor, hailed "13 Hours" as "extraordinary" and "a cinematic masterpiece." Fox News host Megyn Kelly found the movie "riveting."

Given the movie's subject, it might be savvy marketing to highlight a comment from someone like Kelly rather than a review from someone like, say, A.O. Scott.

"13 Hours," which will be released by Paramount on Friday, centers around the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, dead. It is based on the book, "13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi," written by Mitchell Zuckoff and a team of military contractors who responded to the assault on the compound.

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For Fox's reviewers, the movie is seen as a potential drag on the presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attack.

Kelly devoted about 20 minutes of her program earlier this month to discussing "13 Hours." The movie, Kelly asserted, "reintroduces Benghazi as a potential campaign issue that cannot be helpful to Mrs. Clinton."

Those involved with "13 Hours" have said the movie steers clear of any partisan trappings. Neither Clinton nor President Obama are mentioned, and Bay, who has made a career out of action-packed flicks like "Transformers," insisted last year that there is "no political agenda" in "13 Hours." The contractors at the center of the story have also said that they wanted the movie to be apolitical.

But the film includes a detail that fuels much of the conservative anger over Benghazi. In one scene, the contractors are ordered to "stand down" rather than provide assistance to the beleaguered consulate. Congressional investigators concluded that no "stand down" order was ever issued, but the contractors say otherwise.

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Despite the absence of an explicit link to Clinton, conservative commentators have been eager to link her to the movie.

During an interview with the three security contractors earlier this month, Fox News host Sean Hannity asked if the stand down order "came from above," an apparent reference to the Obama administration.

One of the contractors, John "Tig" Tiegen, said it did not.

"I mean, the stand down order, it came from the chief of base," Tiegen said during the interview.

In his review of "13 Hours" for the conservative National Review, Stephen Miller wrote that "Bay's straightforward portrayal of the attack will be as close as pop culture comes to analyzing the failures of the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton that night."

The conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt said Sunday that the movie is "simply and completely an indictment." Bay's directing, Hewitt wrote, "will leave those who will open their eyes and ears to see and hear seething about Hillary's massive fail that night in 2012."

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The movie will benefit from the promotion on Fox News, which is by far the highest rated cable news channel.

Frank Luntz, a Republican messaging maven and Fox News regular, believes that the public has a "responsibility" to see the movie.

"The key in all of this: the more people who see this, the more people know the truth about what really happened," Luntz said Sunday on Fox.

"This is not something that you want to politicize, although obviously something happened there that wasn't right and [Clinton] is responsible."


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