On Sept. 11, 2012, Islamic militants attack the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith, an officer for the Foreign Service. Stationed less than one mile away are members (James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini) of the Annex Security Team, former soldiers assigned to protect operatives and diplomats in the city. As the assault rages on, the six men engage the combatants in a fierce firefight to save the lives of the remaining Americans.
Plot: The US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, makes a visit to the area, staying in a compound near the CIA base. On the night of 11 September, 2012, the Ambassador’s compound is attacked by hordes of heavily armed locals. The only forces willing and able to defend it are six CIA contractors.
Director: Michael Bay
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Runtime: 144 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a comparatively mature and restrained effort from Michael Bay, albeit one that can’t quite boast the impact its fact-based story deserves.
“An amazing ride through a true story.”
This movie was shot with Arriflex, GoPro & Red Epic Dragon cameras and finished at a 2k Digital Intermediate, so you will get upscaled 4k image for this release. As per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in HDR10. When it comes to the grain levels, there’s very little to none — so grain haters, you’re in luck. (Side note: there were a few soft scenes, but nothing that took you out of the movie.)
Something I have to note right away is that the Blu-ray is a rock solid disc, so this 4k image will be a slight jump, nothing drastic. Where you will notice that bump is in the HDR, contrast and black levels. (You will see those black levels shine more so at the end of the film.) I think part of this ‘slight jump’ phrasing has to do with the camera work and the variety of cameras used in this film because they counteract constantly. When things slow down with conversation, BAM! crazy picture quality, but when the high action sequences take place it dips to a bump over the Blu- ray disc. Not a downplay, just a fact.
The place where you will see that amazing 4k razor sharp image will be in the character close-ups I just mentioned — and they are truly reference grade quality. The amount of detail present on screen from the pores, sweat, beard stubble, dirt, flesh tones — it’s impressive. You will see this time and time again all the way up to the final shots of the movie where John Krasinski’s character is calling home.
There were highlights outside of character close-ups — a sniper rifle peeking out of a window with old-torn red drapes flowing in the wind or the soldiers sitting on the rooftop in the darkness of night with night-vision goggles illuminating green off their faces. They were there, just not in abundance — honestly, the detail and 4k sharpness of the close-ups (and sprinkled in moments) makes this disc acceptable as a re-release.
The HDR and contrast upgrades will be the most noticeable in the sweeping shots of Libya, Benghazi and the two compound’s the agents and soldiers are stationed at. This includes the bold colors in the sky as the sun starts to rise down to the dirt, dust and grit of “zombie land” which features dead grass fields, broken structures and rubble. Everything looks great — the colors (and lack of color) in the sand and dirt, the earthly tones of the city, etc — a lot of the film takes place in direct sunlight, so it has a natural touch.
I’ve never been able to fully wrap my head around the bias hate towards Michael Bay. I understand why people have the opinions they do — everything he directs (even before it comes out) is scripted together as something that will be ‘overbearing and obnoxious with no story.’ With some of his movies, you’d definitely have an argument, but you can’t tell me you didn’t enjoy those movies? Anyways… 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi isn’t a perfect movie, but a bad movie? Absolutely not. This movie is action-packed and thrilling — never a dull moment. If you want to call into question the historical accuracy, fine, but I believe he did a good job recreating what happened that night, and ultimately, I think the audience score is right on this one at 82%.
Back to the 4K disc, if you already own this on Blu-ray — you will have a decision to make. This 4K disc is an improvement, but it’s not a huge jump because the previous disc is rock solid. Let’s put it this way — if you’re a big fan of this movie, go and pick up a copy on June 11th, it’s under $20, but if you’re in the middle — wait till it goes on sale, Black Friday has $10 written all over it.
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