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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (4K) (Blu-ray)
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (4K) (Blu-ray)
Paramount // R // June 11, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $25.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted June 24, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

So much about the film from Mitchell Zuckoff's book "13 Hours" was politicized from start to finish, at times it's a wonder if anyone saw the film. What's "13 Hours" you say? It's a book about Benghazi. Wait, a Benghazi book? Oh my gosh (segues into memes and political identity positions). And they made a movie about it? Oy vey. Wait, Michael Bay (Transformers) directed it? Holy crap if it had any seriousness before, it was lost now, right? Well, maybe try watching it first OK?

Anyway, Chuck Hogan (The Town) adapted Zuckoff's book, which is centered around Jack Silva (John Krasinski, A Quiet Place), an operative that works at a CIA base in Libya, fresh after the ouster of Qadafi. The film recounts the days and hours before the takeover of the U.S. embassy and death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, along with three other Americans.

The first thing Bay does with 13 Hours (and I guess by extension from Zuckoff's book) is focus on the battle in the compounds, barely taking the film out of Libya. When he does, it's only when the men are talking to families at home. The film deliberately attempts to take the politicization out of it, going as far as a soldier or two complaining about what it is they're doing there, a statement that could be uttered in, well, every war movie in the last quarter century or so.

By doing that, Bay is able to focus on the battle and details therein, one that makes for surprisingly tense viewing. It is less a Michael Bay war movie but more of a Ridley Scott one, cough Black Hawk Down, cough cough. This isn't a bad thing, but it's reminiscent of that within both the arena and the proportionate odds the Americans in both circumstances faced. It's grueling and emotional to be sure.

Krasinski is fine in the role and is the closest thing to a lead the film has, it's a little more of an ensemble where it gives guys like James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3), Pablo Schreiber (First Man), Max Martini (Fifty Shades Freed), Dominic Fumusa (Focus) and Krasinski's Office co-star David Denman a chance to show off their Hollywood combat chops. Of the group, Dale and Schreiber are the standouts and I would hope to see more of them in the future.

I don't think 13 Hours will sway your opinion one way or another about Benghazi on the whole, but given the odds the Americans faced based on whatever was on the Libyans' collective minds that day, the film communicates this effectively and in a gripping manner, with Bay exceeding whatever standards he established before the film. You may not care about Benghazi!1!!1! but you should care about the people placed in that zone and those who didn't make it out, and that's what Bay gets right.

The Ultra HD Disc:
The Video:

The 2160p presentation of 13 Hours looks excellent. There is a drive along an oceanside road between Krasinski and Dale which highlights the blue of the water, the browns of the road and walls and the green of the trees all with perfect color tones. Image detail is bang-on and as the film goes from evening to overnight to early morning, the green of the night-vision feels like when I had nogs on myself. It looks like a lot of old Michael Bay movies but in 4K things are kicked up a notch.

The Sound:

The Dolby Atmos track brings the roof down, almost literally while watching the film. From the quiet rumble of a commercial aircraft then moments later to the drive down a Libyan alley crowded with cars and guns, you get immersed in the sound quickly. When things escalate with small arms and rocket launchers the thud into walls and explosions get the subwoofer to work, culminating in the mortars late in the attack. Quieter dialogue and other moments are well-balanced and require no compensation. It's a phenomenal listen.

Extras:

This is a port from the 2016 release, starting with "Preparing for Battle" (26:24), the closest thing the disc has to a making of on the film. You get the cast and crew's thoughts on the film and the events and why they wanted to do it, and their thoughts on Bay, who is notably absent from these extras. Production and set design is shown along with location choices, and mini peeks at stunts, driving and explosions are covered. "Uncovering Benghazi's Secret Soldiers" (27:34) interviews the survivors of the GRS, and gets their thoughts on their work and the CIA, and the events of the time, and their lives since. One of the members is definitely combat fatigued and emotional at times as he tours the set, and he (and others) look at the work with the cast. If there was an extra to look at, this would be it. "For the Record" (8:02) examines Zuckoff's book with interviews from him and others, the film's premiere at the Dallas Cowboys football stadium is covered (3:00), along with a memorial tribute to the fallen (2:58).

Final Thoughts:

13 Hours puts aside all of the partisan bickering about Benghazi and makes you watch things that happened in Benghazi. A novel idea! I kid, but the battle is riveting, the emotions are raw and genuine and tension are all nicely done by Michael Bay. Yes, really. Technically the disc is a star, save for the bonus materials, and the result is a marvel on 4K.

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