13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Action

'13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi' Blu-ray Review: Assault on Precinct 13 meets Blackhawk Down

June 14, 2016Ben MK

Everyone is familiar with the events of September 11, 2001. However, not everyone may know about what happened exactly 11 years to the day in Benghazi, when terrorists struck a U.S. diplomatic outpost. Countless news articles have been written about it since, but when you get right down to it, the final word on what really took place has to belong to the six-man CIA security team who disobeyed direct orders to mount a daring rescue.

Known as the Annex Security Team, the book five of them co-authored with writer Mitchell Zuckoff — titled "13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi" — has been fueling the political flames surrounding the attack since it was published in 2014. Now it serves as the basis for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which takes the facts presented on paper and extrapolates them into a non-stop action epic, casting John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa and Max Martini as its heroes.

Scripted by Chuck Hogan, the film doesn't waste time getting going, kicking off with a few bullet points about Libya, and how the 2011 defeat and demise of dictator Muammar Gaddafi turned the nation into one of the most dangerous places on the planet. From there the narrative essentially steers clear of any mention of politics, giving viewers a quick round of character introductions before paving the way for the film's centerpiece, a brutally violent and explosively charged Assault on Precinct 13 style battle that occupies the majority of its running time.

13 Hours follows in the footsteps of movies like Zero Dark Thirty, Lone Survivor and American Sniper. However, if you're expecting the film to shed some light on the real-life events, don't hold your breath. Viewed purely from an entertainment standpoint, though, the movie is as visceral as a war drama can get. But while the end result will have action junkies rejoicing, for everyone else, 13 Hours proves as exhausting as it is exhilarating.

13 Hours debuts on Blu-ray with a stellar A/V presentation, one that showcases tons of fine detail in everything from the beads of sweat on the actors' faces to all the dirt, grime, blood and destruction that gets plastered on-screen. This 1080p image is essentially flawless, with colors tending to the warm end of the spectrum for daylight scenes while nighttime scenes register as cooler. Otherwise, the color palette consists largely of earth tones and fiery orange flames, while primary hues like reds, blues and greens remain rich and deep. As for the disc's Dolby Atmos soundtrack, it creates an enveloping audio experience, especially once the action gets going and the air is filled with a constant barrage of explosions, automatic gunfire, mortar rounds and RPGs.

Paramount's three-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and a second Blu-ray disc containing the following extras:

  • For the Record: Finding the Truth Amid the Noise (8:02) - A look at the events that precipitated the real-life attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, the political fallout that followed in its aftermath, and the filmmakers' efforts to bring the story to the big screen.
  • Uncovering Benghazi's Secret Soldiers (27:34) - A look at the real-life Mark "Oz" Geist, John "Tig" Tiegen and Kris "Tanto" Paronto, their roles and duties as security contractors for the CIA, and their influence on the film and the actors who portray them.
  • Preparing for Battle: Behind the Scenes of 13 Hours (26:24) - A making-of featurette that covers Michael Bay's direction, the camera technology used, the military advisors who provided technical guidance for the filmmakers and training for the actors, shooting in Malta, and the special effects and stunt work.
  • Operation: 13 Hours Premiere (3:00) - Footage from the movie's premiere screening at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
  • In Memoriam (2:58) - A featurette remembering those who lost their lives during the Benghazi attack.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is available from Paramount Home Entertainment as of June 7th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, English Discrete Dolby Digital 5.1, English Discrete Dolby Digital 2.0, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 24 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on January 15th, 2016.

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