Based on the book of the same name, Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi is an intensely engaging combat thriller, focused on the untold humanistic and heroic bravery of the characters. The action blockbuster lands on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a gorgeous Dolby Vision HDR presentation as well as the same reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack and supplements as the original Blu-ray. Still, the overall UHD package is Highly Recommended for action fans.
When first hearing of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi, a film adaptation of the 2012 Benghazi attack, my first concern was of filmmakers potentially politicizing the skirmish, especially considering the massive partisan controversy that soon followed. The other concern was the danger of fictionalizing the tragic event with biased, troublingly jingoistic themes, seeing as how director Michael Bay subtly expresses his personal political leanings in all his action blockbusters — The Rock being the one outlier in his oeuvre. Thankfully, my hesitations were quickly appeased by the time we meet the GRS team and witness their camaraderie. Of course, it also helps to see the friendly face of John Krasinski, fresh off his success on The Office, grounding Chuck Hogan's script, based on the book of the same name. Outside of the CIA Chief (David Costabile) possibly being read as emblematic of incompetent government oversight, 13 Hours is an intensely gripping and harrowing tale of bravery and authentic heroism.
For a more in-depth take on the film, check out our original Blu-ray review HERE from 2016.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Paramount Home Entertainment brings Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi to Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Digital Copy. When redeeming said code via paramountmovies.com or VUDU, users have access to the HD digital version in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc. Both are housed inside a black, eco-vortex case with an embossed slipcover, and the accompanying Blu-ray appears to feature the new remaster. At startup, viewers are taken directly to a static menu screen with the usual options along the bottom.
The biographical combat thriller storms 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a stunningly beautiful HEVC H.265 encode, easily overpowering its Blu-ray predecessor.
The movie was originally shot on a variety of traditional 35mm film and high-quality digital cameras but later mastered to a 2K digital intermediate, which was likely used for this release. The upscaled transfer enjoys a noticeable uptick in overall definition, exposing slightly detailing in the clothes and buildings. Awash in a thin layer of natural grain, giving the 2160p picture an attractive film-like quality, viewers can better make out the bullet holes and imperfections along walls, the smallest pebble of dirt roads, the lettering on screens and whiteboards, and the tiniest debris from explosions is distinct. Most impressive, perhaps, are the highly-revealing facial complexions of the cast, exposing every pore, blemish, scratch and grim with often striking lifelike textures. Sadly, some mild softness and moiré effects in the window blinds keep this beauty on this side of perfection.
Still, the more noteworthy improvement comes by way of a dramatically boosted contrast, making for a vividly dynamic and impressive 4K presentation all around. The whites from the various light sources are noticeably brighter and harsher than in HD while specular highlights maintain a sternly crisp glow that doesn't bloom severely or ruin the smaller details, and metallic surfaces come with a realistic polish and radiance. On the other hand, there are times when the hottest spots, namely scenes with intense explosions or flames blazing from the diplomatic compound, push luminance to the point of washing out the finer aspects. (This might have something to do with the native quality of the source material and not a fault in the encoding.) Likewise, improved brightness levels deliver richer, inkier blacks, providing the 2.39:1 image with a lovely cinematic appeal. With a good chunk of the action set at night, velvety shadows penetrate deep into the screen without sacrificing the finer details in the darkest corners.
Given Dion Beebe's heavily stylized cinematography, the teal-orange palette doesn't benefit as dramatically in the upgrade as other areas, looking fairly similar to its HD SDR counterpart in this respect. Nevertheless, the Dolby Vision presentation shows enough of an enhancement in overall quality to please owners. The differences are admittedly quite nuanced with greens and yellows, in particular, looking fuller and more vivid, which shouldn't be much of a surprise. At night, the streets of Benghazi are flooded in basil, emerald greens, and lots of canary-gold yellows. At the CIA compound, the screen is continuously engulfed in cobalt blues, vibrant ocean cyans, fiery tangerine oranges, and rich marigold yellows. Meanwhile, blood is a darker ruby scarlet, and the many panoramic shots of sunsets display a lovely array of pinks and violets fading into dark magentas and deep indigo blues, making for a really beautiful video upgrade fans will really love. (Dolby Vision Video Rating: 86/100)
13 Hours explodes onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with the same superb, reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack as its Blu-ray counterpart from 2016.
Pretty much from the start, the streets of Benghazi are littered with the city's bustling commotion and the heavy traffic, immediately enveloping the viewer. When the action erupts, bullets and debris fly in every direction and overhead, raining down all around the listening area, creating a highly satisfying hemispheric soundfield. Quieter moments are filled with a variety of atmospherics in the distance, maintaining a well-balanced and immersive environ. Across the front soundstage, imaging is continuously broad and expansive, exhibiting a sharply-detailed and extensive mid-range even during the loudest, ear-piercing moments. At the same time, vocals are very well prioritized and crystal clear amid the frantic chaos while a powerfully commanding low-end delivers room-energizing, wall-rattling bass, providing the action some palpable presence and weight.
For a more in-depth take on the audio quality, you can read our review of the Blu-ray HERE. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 96/100)
All of the bonus materials can be found on the included Blu-ray:
Based on the book recounting the events of the 2012 Benghazi attack, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi is an intense white-knuckle combat thriller. The battle erupts on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a gorgeous Dolby Vision HDR presentation that exceeds and trounces its Blu-ray counterpart. Although accompanied by the same reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack and supplements as before, the UHD package is a noteworthy improvement and Highly Recommended for fans and those hungering for more HDR goodness.