13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

13 Hours 4K ReviewWith the exception of the first Transformers film I can’t be the only one out there that thinks everything else Michael Bay touched (outside Transformers 2-5) is pretty decent, can I?  We have such Bay-hem gems out there like the Bad Boys series and Pain & Gain to my all-time favorite The Island.  That’s why when 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (or 13 Hours as we’ll refer to it from here on out in this review) was initially released theatrically I didn’t even hesitate.  Boom!  He had my ticket sale.  Even if it just produced smoke, gunfire and other bombastic moments I knew I’d be getting my money’s worth despite his Transformers failures (in my opinion of course).  If I could be completely honest with you though, it was the addition of John Krasinski to the cast lineup that really got my butt cheeks in a seat.  I wanted to see what he could bring outside of The Office television series.  He did not disappoint!


13 Hours, otherwise known also as “the Benghazi movie,” was released in the calendar year of 2016 and I would bill it as the biographical warfare genre of films.  The movie is both directed and produced by Michael Bay and written by Chuck Hogan, based on Mitchell Zuckoff’s 2014 book of the same name.  The bombastic action film follows six members of Annex Security Team who fought to defend the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya after a slew of attacks by militants on September 11, 2012.  In addition to my leading man John Krasinski, whom I mentioned up above, the film stars James Badge Dale, David Giuntoli, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman and Toby Stephens.  13 Hours went on to gross $69 million worldwide against a budget of $50 million, which coincidentally is Bay’s lowest-grossing film.

I have to admit at first I was a bit hesitant to devote time to this wartime film.  Truth be told I’m not the hugest fan of this genre, but I could not resist seeing what Bay could do with a serious subject like this especially after enjoying Pain & Gain so much (our Blu-ray review HERE).  I wasn’t disappointed.  He handled the subject matter with respect, emotions and sensitivity, but at the same time pumped you up with the unmistakable action visual spectaculars he’s known for.  It helps too that John Krasinski really looks the part here.  He’s pumped and ready to kick some butt.  Along those same lines I also found it odd, but extremely crowd pleasing he shares the screen here with his former Office star, David Denman.  Add an A+ plus performance from co-star James Badge Dale and you have one very likable and bankable cast here.

What I love the most about this wartime effort is you don’t need to know anything about what went down in Benghazi.  It was a very controversial moment in our history yes, but Michael Bay handles it with that mad respect I mentioned above.  For those of you familiar with the incident I guess it plays out like an extraordinary documentary you’d eat up on the History Channel or something similar.  However, for the uninitiated this plays out very much like a bonafide action thriller on par with the level of awesomeness you’d expect from a Michael Bay production, sans the robots of course.  That means plenty of booms, gunfire and fireworks to be had with this one.

So I guess what I am trying to verbally get to in a round about way is the following.  If you like the thought of re-living 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, then by all means this one is for you this Memorial Day week.  Having Michael Bay directing the action is just the icing on the cake here.  The real secret sauce here are the extraordinary performances and heartfelt emotions pumped into this heroic tale of bravery, honor and comradeship.


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Paramount’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 2160p
  • Dolby Vision: Yes
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: As you can expect from a Michael Bay directed film its very stylized in appearance.  What I mean by that is colors are jacked, textures are on steroids and more.  So not everything is going to look ultra lifelike.  However, I did say it looks like the textures are on steroids and I didn’t lie.  Fissures in stone are razor sharp, but it’s the human characteristics that look really sweet here such as pores, hairs, stubble, moles, freckles and most impressively John’s chiseled six-pack.
  • Depth: There’s a lot of three-dimensional pop featuring the onscreen characters, but perhaps where depth of field excels the most here are the city streets throughout and vast areas of the compounds where the many wartime moments transpire.
  • Black Levels: The black levels are all incredibly deep and inky, but since the main crux of this battle does take place during the nighttime I want to make sure I mention here how great the HDR looks keeping things clearly visible despite the darkness of it all.
  • Color Reproduction: It’s a Michael Bay film.  You can expect a lot of bright, bold, hotly tweaked and sun drenched colors throughout here.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones also are a tad hot, but again it’s a Michael Bay film.  Would you expect anything else?
  • Noise/Artifacts: Source noise is present, especially in the stock footage, but it’s not persistent or pesky throughout.  It looks like you’re watching a Transformers feature sans the robots in disguise.


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Paramount’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, 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
  • Subtitles: English Audio Description, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Dynamics: Like heard on the original Blu-ray’s Atmos release 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.
  • Height: The Atmos surround audio isn’t too superficial at all, but it’s a welcome addition for a Michael Bay wartime film like this.  So let’s capture all those special moments you’ll find here in the height channels.  You’ll hear airplanes above, fireworks cracking, ceiling fans whirling, non-stop explosions and bombings, gunfire, fire, debris falling everywhere and more.
  • Low Frequency Extension: There’s plenty to rock your viewing room here in the LFE department with explosions, gunshots, mussels, blasts, debris and that menacing, pulsating score plus a hell of a lot more.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels stay active throughout with examples such as prayer chants, gunfire, bullets ricocheting everywhere, screams, fire burning and more.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels are all clear and intelligible throughout the 4K presentation.


Debuting just in time for Father’s Day this year, the 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack includes the film in 4K Ultra HD as well as a second Blu-ray Disc with over an hour of bonus content.  Go behind-the-scenes with the ex-military operators recounting the extraordinary detail involved in recreating the events from the attack.  In addition you can join the cast and crew as they highlight the filmmaking process and how director Michael Bay brought the film to life.  The must-own set also includes access to a digital copy of the film too.  I do want to point out though this is the very first 4K UHD package I ever saw from Paramount where no Blu-ray version of the film is included.  Now let’s take a closer look at all the extras found on the Blu-ray Disc.

  • 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.


What else can you say that hasn’t been said up above?  It’s Memorial Day week 2019!  It’s time to break out those white pants!  However, more importantly its time to show off your patriotism and pay respect to this national holiday by reliving a tale of heroism, bravery and courage as 13 Hours makes its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debut on June 11th.  It comes highly recommended from me for a “Bayhem” good old time complete with a loud, bombastic and very capable Dolby Atmos surround track.  However, your mileage may vary if you already own it on the Blu-ray format.  If that doesn’t apply to you, then this one’s a no-brainer!  Hit up that reasonably priced pre-order link down below, get your Dad one for Father’s Day and many thanks for reading.  Happy Memorial Day week!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.  The images used above within the review are not actual 4K screenshots.  They are for illustrative purposes only.  


13 Hours

Blows Things Up on

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

June 11th




13 Hours 4K


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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