13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 17-Jul-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-For the Record: Finding the Truth Amid the Noise (8:02)
Featurette-Uncovering Benghazi’s Secret Soldiers (27:34)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Preparing for Battle (26:24)
More…-Operation: 13 Hours Premiere (3:00)
More…-In Memoriam (2:56)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 144:29
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Bay
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring John Krasinski
James Badge Dale
Pablo Schreiber
David Denman
Dominic Fumusa
Max Martini
Alexia Barlier
Matt Letscher
Demetrius Grosse

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Lorne Balfe


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
Spanish
Italian
Dutch
Japanese
Norwegian
Finnish
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The G.R.S. are teams made up of elite ex-military personnel, including Marines, Rangers and Seals, who are hired under contract by the C.I.A. to protect C.I.A. operatives and compounds in dangerous areas. And in 2012 Benghazi in Libya was one of the most dangerous places in the world; after the death of President Gadhafi weapons were freely available and warring factions, some friendly to the US, others very hostile, fought each other on the streets for control of the city. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is the true story of the events of the night of 11-12 September, 2012, when Benghazi exploded. It is based upon the non-fiction book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff.

     The film starts with the arrival at Benghazi airport of G.R.S. member Jack Silva (John Krasinski). He is met by his old friend and team leader Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods (James Badge Dale) for the drive to the unacknowledged C.I.A. compound in the city the G.R.S. are employed to protect. The volatile situation on the streets is quickly established as they encounter heavily armed men: in Benghazi weapons are carried by everybody and as the Libyans look alike and wear no uniforms or distinguishing clothes it is impossible for the Americans to tell who is friendly and who is hostile, at least until they start shooting at you! In the compound Jack meets other members of their team including Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto (Pablo Schreiber), Dave ‘Boon’ Benton (David Denman), John ‘Tig’ Tiegen (Dominic Fumusa) and Mark ‘Oz’ Geist (Max Martini) as well as the station chief Bob (David Costabile) who is hostile to the G.R.S. team as he believes that they contribute to the instability of the situation, rather than helping.

    On 10 September 2012 the US Ambassador to Libya, who was stationed in Tripoli, made a visit to the local authorities in Benghazi, bringing with him only a small State Department security detail. After his round of engagements he stays in the unofficial embassy, which is situated about one kilometre from the C.I.A. compound. In theory, the Ambassador is protected by local police and security but on the evening of 11 September a heavily armed force attacked the embassy, driving off the locals, and the ambassador and other Americans are trapped inside as the building is set on fire. The US had no military assets nearby to rescue the Ambassador; the only heavily armed force is the G.R.S. team at the C.I.A. compound. While such a rescue mission is not within their contract terms they are prepared to go but Bob refuses permission until he is finally overruled. It is almost too late; the team fought their way through the streets and into the embassy and rescued some of the Americans, but they are not able to locate the Ambassador before they return to the C.I.A. compound. That compound then came under heavy machine gun, rocket and mortar attack for the rest of the night, and people died.

     13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a fabulous modern battle film, rather like Black Hawk Down but without the helicopters, depicting the intensity and reality of combat in an urban area. The film was directed by Michael Bay and it does have some of the Bay action signatures such as hand-held cameras, jump cuts and pans and one scene where a mortar bomb is followed from the barrel of the mortar, into the air and down onto the roof of the compound where it explodes! Bay can certainly do action and the sequences in 13 Hours are loud, explosive, chaotic and visceral, but they remain realistic, without false histrionics as brave men do what they have to. The authenticity of the film is confirmed by the existence on the film set of three of the operatives who participated in the battle, Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto, John ‘Tig’ Tiegen and Mark ‘Oz’ Geist who was badly wounded in the fighting; in the extras on this Blu-ray they comment about how real the set, the actors who play them and the action feel.

     13 Hours does have quieter moments and tries to sketch in a little of the backgrounds of these secret soldiers as husbands and fathers, with families back in the US. Some characterisations fare better than others but when the action starts it is still hard to tell just who is who; much of the film takes place in the dark, with tracers and lasers, green night vision and explosions and fires contributing to the glow while the soldiers are under all that equipment, helmets and weapons. Yet I must say that Michael Bay has provided us with character vignettes where he can amid the chaos and explosions and delivered a film that is at the same time powerful, intense and moving. 13 Hours runs for 144 minutes, but it does not feel bloated; not a moment is wasted and the time flies along.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     13 Hours is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Shot using Red Epic cameras, often at night, the film looks spectacular. The colours are bright, glossy and over-saturated; the yellow of the night lights, fires and explosions, the vibrant green of the lawn and the deep blue of the daylight sky resonate. Detail, blacks and shadow detail are fabulous. Brightness and contrast is consistent, skin tones a little reddish / brown but still fine.

     Artefacts and marks were not present.

     Subtitles are available in a wide range of European languages, including English for the hearing impaired, plus Japanese.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio choices are English Atmos (which defaults to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 if you are not Atmos capable), English descriptive audio, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese dubs, all Dolby Digital 5.1.

     I am not set up for Atmos or 7.1, but even in 5.1 the audio rocks the room. The film was nominated for an Oscar for sound design (although it lost out to Hacksaw Ridge) and it is everything a battle film should be. Dialogue is clear and in the non-action sections there are ambient sounds such as voices and music in the surrounds. During the combat the different weapons have distinct sounds, explosions reverberate, bullets strike walls and vehicles, dust and debris rain down. There are some massive blasts as well, including a bus exploding, and rocket and mortar impacts. The sub-woofer added a wonderful boom and resonance to the shots, hits, engines and explosions.

     The score by Lorne Balfe was loud and bombastic when required and in quieter moments added some Hans Zimmer like cues.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     All the extras are on the second disc. They are genuine, interesting extras and provide insight into the filming process and the filmmaker’s intentions. The real bonus is the input of three of the G.R.S. men who were actually there. Thirty-one subtitles from all over the world are available for these extras.

For the Record: Finding the Truth Amid the Noise (8:02)

     Using film stills and footage, archive footage from Benghazi and interviews with Mitchell Zuckoff, author of 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, screenwriter Chuck Hogan, producer Erwin Stoff, cast members, some of the G.R.S. team who were there and various consultants, this extra discusses how the book and the film seek to tell what actually happened in Benghazi instead of the misinformation and politicisation of the events that occurred in Washington and the US.

Uncovering Benghazi’s Secret Soldiers (27:34)

     This extra focuses on three of the ex-G.R.S. members, Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto, John ‘Tig’ Tiegen and Mark ‘Oz’ Geist, on set with the production in Malta. They talk about their experiences, comment on the authenticity of the reconstructed set and interact with the actors who play them in the film. The extra also adds information about the founding of the G.R.S. after the attacks of 9/11 and their role. Also here is film footage and comments by the writer of the book, the screenwriter, producer, cast members and various consultants plus information about the Shadow Warriors Project, a foundation set up by Mark Geist to assist the rehabilitation of G.R.S. operatives after the end of their contracts.

Preparing for Battle: Behind the Scenes of 13 Hours (26:24)

     Consisting of on-set and film footage and interviews with eight cast members, cinematographer Dion Beebe, two producers, the stunt coordinator, special effects coordinator and technician, the production designer and location manager, this comprehensive extra covers the look of the film, the style and working methods of Michael Bay, camera rigs, drones, shooting in Malta, the practical effects and stunts, the boot camp attended by the actors and the determination to make it real and to do justice to those who were there.

Operation: 13 Hours Premiere (3:00)

     Footage of the film’s premier at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, with cast, G.R.S. men and Michael Bay.

In Memoriam (2:56)

     A tribute to the four Americans killed at Benghazi; still photographs with Amazing Grace on the audio.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our Region B Blu-ray is the same as the Region A US release of 13 Hours technically and extra wise, although that adds a DVD of the film.

Summary

     If you enjoy intense action films such as Black Hawk Down you should enjoy 13 Hours. It is a technically impressive, intense battle film, one of the best I have seen in some time. Director Michael Bay is not usually known for restraint in his films but 13 Hours is an exception; it is still loud, chaotic and explosive but it is also a tribute to the men who fought and died to protect others. The fact that this really happened, and only a few years ago, makes it all the more poignant.

     The video and audio are excellent. The extras are genuine and add to our understanding of the film and the real life events.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
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