13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi (Blu-ray Review)

13-HoursHailed as “powerful” (Kyle Smith, New York Post), “engrossing” (Soren Andersen, Seattle Times) and “full of explosive action” (Dan Casey, Nerdist), director Michael Bay’s remarkable 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand June 7, 2016 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  The film arrives two weeks early on Digital HD May 24.  The film stars John Krasinski (TV’s “The Office”), James Badge Dale (World War Z) and Pablo Schreiber (TV’s “Orange is the New Black”), and is based on the nonfiction novel 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by New York Times best-selling author Mitchell Zuckoff with the members of the Annex Security Team.  The 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI three-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack with Digital HD includes an hour of bonus content featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the six ex-military operators recounting the extraordinary detail involved in recreating the events from the attack. Plus, join the cast and crew as they highlight the filmmaking process and how director Michael Bay brought the film to life. 


13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi tells the incredible true story of six elite ex-military operators who fought to protect the CIA against overwhelming odds when terrorists attacked a U.S. diplomatic compound on September 11, 2012.

I’ve made no secret that while I may not like all of his films and he has made some legit stinkers (Pearl Harbor, the Transformers films), Michael Bay is an absolute talent and can easily be considered a modern auteur.  He changed the game in the action film in the 1990s and manages to capture and film some of the most challenging sequences in film.  Its a shame he’s been so bogged down with the Transformers movies (Five of them now) as it’d be interesting to have seen what kind of stuff we’ve been missing from him had he not been handcuffed to doing constant franchise work for just  one series.

13 Hours isn’t heavy handed, but its tells its story with its angle.  Aside from politics, aside from the “true story” aspect of the film, its actually a terrific and intense military/action thriller.  Bay’s coverage on the action works in such a way that pumps up a scenario no matter who is involved.  Whether you’re invested in the character at the forefront of a sequence or they just stepped into frame for the first time, you’re so up close and personal with the action that it works on any level.  There is a very documentary quality to these scenes that almost give them some sort of real life quality but still being a beefed up and movie-like.

John Krasinski turns in his lanky frame for a beefed up super macho action star body.  I mean, he is pretty huge and Michael Bay-like in the film.  I’m not familiar with the real life person he’s playing, but Krasinski sort of plays this very dry and cold to the world to his peers, but open and emotional whenever contact comes in with his family.  Co-headlining this is James Badge Dale, who continues to put in some of the most under the radar work as he’s been doing the past few years.  He’s a bit more colorful and interesting to follow around.  Of note, David Denman is in this, so its a bit of a The Office reunion between Jim and Roy.

The whole Benghazi affair is a big and controversial topic with this country.  Maybe this Michael Bay film is something that helps people, for some a tough watch and some maybe disagree with the approach and view of the film.  Any way you shake it, its done with much respect, matter of fact and with a sort of genuine feel to everything.  For those that don’t know much about the event or are able to, the film also works at its core as a suspenseful, intense action military thriller.  Its the kind of topical stuff or respectable genre stuff that Michael Bay is capable of when he’s not busy with robots in disguise.

13 Hours 5


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  Like every Michael Bay film, this carries a razor sharp, slick and vivid picture.  The images is full and tropical looking.  Details are very abundant and almost window-like clear to look at.  Its a super clean look and that demo-worthy kind of picture.

Depth:  Movements are smooth and natural.  Spacing looks very good and lifelike.  Everything is free to move and has clarity between background and foreground.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep, inky and rich.  Shading, darkness and shadows look wonderful here and only help to provide definition with very very minimal detail lost.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are vivid and pop through.  Browns feature a wide variety of shades and tints.  Others are strong, especially blue in the skies.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are on the warm side and keep their appearance from scene to scene throughout the film’s duration.  Sweat is an everpresent facial detail as well as stubble, wrinkles, cracks, pores and things like dried blood and dirt.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 5.1 Discrete Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Discrete Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Dynamics:  While this features an Atmos track, this review is on the 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track.  Which, by the way, is incredibly impressive.  Every piece of foley and effect sound is well rounded, crafted and layered.  You get every pinch or sound.  Its beautifully woven into this mix and puts you in the middle of the action in the film, ramping up the intensity of the tragedy at hand.

Low Frequency Extension:  Lots of booming from the subwoofer from gunfire, to engines humming and cars crashing with fire roaring and explosions running rampant.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The surround is quite involved and incredible amusing on the ears.  All 7 channels are active at every point in the film.  The attacks and strategery are present at all times doing their own thing in each speaker.  Volume placement and movement will impress with ease throughout.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp and clear.  The volume setting is perfectly woven into the mix making it feel right in where it would be given a circumstance and always audible.

13 Hours 3


13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a 2-disc set that comes with a DVD Copy and UltraViolet digital copy of the film.  The bonus material appears on disc 2.

For the Record: Finding the Truth Amid the Noise (HD, 8:02) – This brief little piece covers the facts about the event as well as leading into the book and Michael Bay’s interest in making this into a feature film.

Uncovering Benghazi’s Secret Soldiers (HD, 27:34) – This one follows two of the actual guys involved in the event as they share their stories, their work and tour the actual set and admire the accuracy and also the little things off with it.

Preparing For Battle: Behind the Scenes of 13 Hours (HD, 26:24) – A very detailed look at the production of the film, from the training of the actors, to the intense film of the big action pieces in the movie.  Its always crazy to see how complicated, thought out, detailed, big and intense the set of a Michael Bay film actually is.

Operation: 13 Hours Premiere (HD, 3:00) – Covers the premiere at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in which all proceeds were donated to charity.

In Memoriam (HD, 2:58) – By candle light, “Amazing Grace” plays as photos of those lost at Benghazi appear onscreen.

13 Hours 4


13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is an intense military thriller with some personal and big action.  Michael Bay once again proves that he’s one of the best when it comes to coverage and action innovation.  Whether or not you’re on board with the story its telling, you should be on board with the craft and with it just as a film.  This Blu-ray comes with a top notch presentation and a solid slew of extras.  I say definitely give it a shot.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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