Fresh on 4K: ’13 HOURS’ arrives with a fresh coat of UHD paint

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI (2016)

Rated R, 144 minutes.
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: John KrasinskiPablo Schreiber and James Badge Dale

Michael Bay has got to be one of the most consistent directors in all of Hollywood. Sure, his filmography may be loaded with what could best be described as critical punching bags, but they are nevertheless consistent. That same consistency can also be found in the visual and audio quality in Bay’s films. Whether you’re a fan of the Bayhem or not, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the director knows how to make stunning films.

This naturally applies to one of Bay’s more serious (and naturally less talked about) films, 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI. The 2016 war drama is inconspicuously getting a 4K UHD re-release three years after hitting store shelves on Blu-ray disc. As it turns out, a shiny new coat of paint might be enough to convince audiences to give this one another look.

Movie Grade: C-

From our theatrical review:

“[The] most recent conflicts in the Middle East have resulted in a new wave of war movies that depict the harrowing realities of these engagements. Some films, such as LONE SURVIVOR, may focus more on the action than the politics, but almost all have a message of some variety about war. The same can be said of Michael Bay’s new film, 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI.

This movie will have its fans: action junkies, stalwart patriots and folks who just need to kill two hours by watching 13. Some will appreciate the impressive treatment the film has been given, while others might roll their eyes at every corny line of dialogue.

The film is a visceral action flick that is well-photographed and undeniably reverent of the real-life heroes who risked and lost their lives on that fateful day, but we are ultimately let down with a clichéd script and an overly Hollywood production that ignores the harrowing complexities of modern war.”

John Krasinski plays Jack Silva in ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ from Paramount Pictures and 3 Arts Entertainment / Bay Films.

Video/Audio Grade: A

13 HOURS arrives on 4K UHD through an upscale treatment from a 2K Digital Intermediate, but it feels right at home on the format. Bay’s visual style excels in 4K. Little specks of dirt and beads of sweat on the actors’ faces feel much more realized, bullet casings flying through the air leave subtle puffs of smoke, and explosions light up the night sky with superb visual brilliance.

All of this is fleshed out even further thanks to the inclusion of Dolby Vision and HDR10. With over half of the film’s running time taking place at night, the darker colors of these scenes never feel crushed or artificial. The deep blues and blacks of the night sky are wonderfully contrasted by burning vehicles and muzzle flash from firearms. One scene filmed within a burning building is especially vivid, as deep blacks of toxic smoke billow from bright orange flames.

This disc includes the same Dolby Atmos audio track from the previous Blu-ray release. Regardless, this track more than justifies the film’s Oscar-nominated sound mixing. The definition in this audio track is terrifyingly good. With all the chaos happening on the screen, it could have been so easy to throw gunshot and explosion sounds into the mix and call it a day. But every gun feels accounted for here. The difference between the varying types of weapons being used in any given scene is stunningly realized and gives every action sequence all the more weight.

Extras Grade: C

There are no supplemental features included on the 4K disc, but the packaged Blu-ray carries all special features over from the 2016 release. It should be noted that the included Blu-ray DOES NOT contain the film itself. So, if you’re one of the hardcore fans considering a double dip, be warned this one will have nothing new for you in the extras department.

That said, the extras themselves dive a little deeper into the politics of the real-life attack in Benghazi, as well as focus on the film’s involvement with the real-life heroes of the event.

All extras listed below:

  • For the Record: Finding the Truth Amid the Noise
  • Uncovering Benghazi’s Secret Soldiers
  • Preparing for Battle: Behind the Scenes of 13 HOURS
  • Operation: 13 HOURS Premiere
  • In Memoriam

Final Grade: B+

13 HOURS may not ever reach the heights of other films such as BLACK HAWK DOWN on a critical level, but the film remains one of the most (if not the most) mature movies Michael Bay has put together. And while the film itself can leave some to be desired, it certainly makes up for it by offering one of the most visceral 4K experiences available.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.