13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi 4K Blu-ray Cover

Michael Bay is a director that’s kind of a conundrum for audiences. On one hand, his films are thrilling and extremely entertaining and on the other hand, his films can be all style and no substance. But as bad as some of his films are (see: the last two Transformers films), his gritty military warfare films are simply wonderful. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi may not be perfect but it’s not boring either.

The edge-of-your-seat thrills and explosive action far outweigh the long runtime and story issues. Michael Bay does an impeccable job putting you right inside the insane events of that fateful night. For most of the 2 hour and 24-minute runtime, he goes full throttle—rarely letting up to give audiences a breather. Why should he though? The soldiers in Benghazi rarely got a break, so why should audiences? It makes you wonder just how these American survived those thirteen hours without any help. The odds were definitely against them.

However, the film does take a while before the action kicks in. There’s a certain lull during the first part of the film—a way of letting audiences connect with the soldiers. Unfortunately, there’s not much character development or connection going on in these scenes. The sentimental scenes fall flat and the banter between everyone seems forced.

Yet once the excrement hits the proverbial fan then the chemistry between the contract soldiers are palpable. There’s just something that clicks within the cast where the dialogue between them seems friendly and natural. As a result, all of these characters start to become likable and you begin to gravitate towards the camaraderie between the soldiers. They’re not the stiff wooden performances during the early part of the film.

Overall, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a non-stop action thrill ride that gives you a sense of the insane events that happened on that fateful night in Benghazi. It will take a while to get there but once go downhill, it’s full speed ahead. Unfortunately, that lull before will bore you to tears.

Movie Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

Video

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - James Badge Dale

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The video for 13 Hours has always been amazing. So it’s no surprise that the Ultra HD version doesn’t drastically improve over the Blu-ray version. Instead, the video transfer is a good complementary piece to the original Blu-ray release. Because of Michael Bay’s high use of contrast in the picture, both the brightness and black levels look amazing. The light areas are incredibly bright while the black levels are inky and deep. The colors look natural but there are some instances where certain warm colors look too saturated. You can see this in the brake taillights in the nighttime Benghazi chase scene and the various explosions. On the other hand, it could also be intentional on Michael Bay’s part.

Yet the Ultra HD’s clearest improvements come from the video’s detail clarity. For a 4K upscale, the video looks absolutely pristine. You can clearly see all of the grit, grime, dirt, and sweat on everyone’s faces. Not to mention, the edges are so crisp and well-defined. Paramount’s 4K re-releases have always been great and that continues with 13 Hours.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Audio

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - John Krasinski

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect 13 Hours‘ Dolby Atmos track. As much as people knock on Michael Bay, there’s no denying that his movies are action-packed and that action lends itself to an intense and immersive Atmos mix. Now, there aren’t a lot of dynamic pans in this mix. Don’t expect to hear a lot of bullets whizzing past the soundstage. However, the sound effects envelop you and come at you like a wave. At the same time, your entire soundstage will become a battleground once the action begins. The busy placement of gunfire will come at you at all sides which will put you right into the combat.

This also applies to the overhead effects as well. Most of the effects are ground level, but the overhead effects will accurately come at you when the scene calls for it. During the film’s quieter scenes, the mix fills the soundstage with distinct and audible atmospheric sound effects. Effects like town and crowd noise or cricket chirps—these effects keep you immersed in a scene even when it’s a calm moment. The same can be said about Lorne Balfe’s percussion-heavy score. The drums boom across the soundstage while the other instruments in the score are layered across different channels. Best of all, the dialogue can still clearly be heard among the frenetic gunfire and mayhem. Also, it wouldn’t be a Michael Bay film without the complementary use of the subwoofer to add weight to the mix.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Special Features

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - Pablo Schreiber, John Krasinski, and David Denman

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi doesn’t have any special features on the 4K Blu-ray disc. However, you can find the following special features on the special features Blu-ray disc:

  • For the Record: Finding the Truth Amid the Noise
  • Uncovering Benghazi’s Secret Soldiers
  • Preparing for Battle: Behind the Scenes of 13 Hours
  • Operation: 13 Hours Premiere
  • In Memoriam

“For the Record” is a really short documentary behind the creation of the book that the movie is based on. In a way, it’s engaging since you get to see the aftermath of the Benghazi incident. “Uncovering” is easily the most interesting featurette in this release. In this lengthy featurette, we get to hear stories of Benghazi from the soldiers who were actually there. Not to mention, they give us a tour of the compound set, talk about the GRS (Global Response Staff), and the soldiers and cast talk about each other. Hearing their stories is just so engaging.

“Preparing for Battle” is another interesting featurette which goes in-depth on the making of the film. From Michael Bay’s frenetic directing to the cast’s military training, the featurette covers a lot of subjects which will intrigue filmmaking fans. “Operation” is a bit of an interesting look at the big premiere at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Lastly, you can probably figure out what “In Memoriam” is about. Set to a sweet rendition of Amazing Grace, the piece pays homage to those who gave their lives in the Benghazi incident.

Special Features Rating: 4/5 atoms


Overall, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is an intense, action-packed thrill ride that only Michael Bay can deliver. Certain Michael Bay tropes still weigh this film down, but you can’t deny that this film is one of his best. The video transfer is pristine and the audio mix is phenomenally playful. Finally, the special features are both informative and engaging.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Paramount Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1488 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.