Director: Michael Bay
Cast: James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber
Release Date: Available on Blu-ray & DVD June 7, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
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.
Based on the amazing true story, ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ follows the events that occurred on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi when after refusing to sit back and watch as an entire compound and those inside are massacred, six elite ex-military contractors dared to defy their direct orders and provide assistance against seemingly impossible odds. What follows is a grueling 13 hour battle pitting these six men and the minimal forces at their disposal against a plethora of armed soldiers who make continuous attempts to work their way into the compound, these contractors now the only thing protecting the remaining US survivors.
Directed by Michael Bay (Transformers, Pain and Gain) from a script by author Chuck Hogan (TV’s The Strain) which was based upon the novel by Mitchell Zuckoff respectively, Bay does a fantastic job at the helm of ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ guiding the film with an obvious passion and care. The film also benefits a great deal from the talented individuals who comprise the cast including James Badge Dale (The Grey, The Walk), John Krasinski (Aloha, TV’s The Office U.S.), Pablo Schreiber (TV’s Orange Is The New Black), David Denman (TV’s Outcast, The Office U.S.), Dominic Fumusa (Focus, TV’s Nurse Jackie), Max Martini (Pacific Rim), David Costabile (TV’s Billions), Toby Stephens (TV’s Black Sails), David Giuntoli (TV’s Grimm), and more, all of which deliver more than capable, if not impressive performances in each of their respective roles.
’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ is a phenomenal film that exudes an obvious passion and respect for the real events and those individuals involved with them. While naturally representing some trademarks of director Michael Bay, he certainly makes a point of not letting the action and warfare overwhelm the heart and soul of the story which is the acts of these courageous individuals. That’s certainly not to say there isn’t a great deal of explosive action and Bay has plenty of opportunity to display his talent for notable and explosive action and mayhem during the numerous attack sequences while also managing to simultaneously keep things realistic in the level of violence and never allowing it to come across as glorified in the slightest. For those familiar with the real events, as well as those who simply appreciate a quality film that will pull you along for one tense and emotionally riveting ride, I would highly recommend checking out ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’. Many of those who aren’t normally fans of Michael Bay’s work are even likely to truly appreciate this fantastic film.
Overall, ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ is an action packed, emotionally powerful and heartfelt film based upon the real life events and individuals. Guided beautifully by director Michael Bay and complimented by a powerful cast including James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber and many more, ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ is outstanding, powerful and without a doubt one of Bay’s most impressive directorial efforts to date; it easily earns one of my highest recommendations.
The Blu-ray release of ‘13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks wonderful and provides a consistently sharp, detailed and gorgeous presentation without any notable faults to be found within. It holds up wonderfully even during the numerous darkly lit and fast moving sequences that are so frequent in the film and never results in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected in any way, let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is an outstanding high definition video presentation complimented by a more than sufficient bitrate that shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This lossless multichannel soundtrack is extraordinary and delivers a crisp, clean and wildly aggressive audio presentation from start to finish. Constantly utilizing all seven available channels to send a plethora of bullets, debris, flame and numerous other elements whipping throughout the speakers, while managing to never allow any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a phenomenal Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that contributes immensely to the overall viewing experience and should leave casual viewers and audiophiles alike utterly blown away.
The Blu-ray release of ‘13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ includes a number of solid extras which can all be found on the second Blu-ray disc which is dedicated solely to the supplemental material. The release includes a number of videos and behind the scenes Featurettes that explore bringing the film to life as well as the real events which inspired the book that it was based upon and including interviews/comments with the cast and crew, the real heroes and more. The included videos/Featurettes are: ‘For The Record: Finding the Truth amid the Noise’ (running approximately 8 minutes in length), ‘Uncovering Benghazi’s Secret Soldiers’ (running approximately 28 minutes), ‘Preparing for Battle: Behind the Scenes of 13 Hours’ (approximately 26 minutes), ‘Operation 13 Hours Premiere’ (3 minutes) and ‘In Memoriam’ (3 minutes).