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Digital Download Review

DVD cover

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi


Starring: James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini, Dominic Fumusa, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Toby Stephens and Freddie Stroma
Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 30 May 2016

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi tells the 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 11 September 2012. The film is based on the nonfiction novel 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by New York Times best-selling author Mitchell Zuckoff with the members of the Annex Security Team.

Michael Bay delivers an impressive action movie based on true events. However, if I'm being totally honest, it's a little overlong. A bit of editing could have tightened things up a little without losing anything.

The film charts the run up to the events of 11 September 2012 where terrorists attacked a poorly guarded US diplomatic compound and then turned their attention to a secret CIA base a mile away. The movie opens with the introduction of Jack Da Silva (John Krasinski) to the base. Da Silva acts as the audience's introduction to the set up and eventual escalation of events.

Of course, this wouldn't be a Michael Bay film without explosions - of which there are plenty. The soundtrack is provided by Lorne Balfe, who was responsible for scoring the console game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. There's a very out of place segment in the movie where, for some reason, Bay decides to strap a camera to a couple of the guns giving us a first person shooter perspective familiar to any online gamer.

We received a streaming screener link to review this movie - not my viewing experience of choice as this limits the screen size to the size of a PC screen, or in this instance an iPad. It's not the best way to review a movie that should be (and would be if Blu-ray / DVD screeners had been available) watched on at least a 40" TV screen with surround sound. But, hey, more and more people are switching to digital movies to watch on the move. But wait... what's this? Paramount are so convinced that we journalists are thieving scumbags that we're sent not only a timecoded review copy (which has a digital clock ticking over the time watched so far in the top right hand corner of the screen) but every 15 minutes "Property of Paramount Pictures" (or some such wording) is flashed up on the screen in huge letters.

Now I get it, I really do. As a reviewer I'm constantly looking to illegally copy everything that comes my way and set up a little sideline to help fund my drug and prostitution habits, so this has worked here and I haven't been able to profit from watching the movie... But in all seriousness this takes away from the movie. There are two emotional scenes in the film and both were destroyed by this rather self defeating copyright notice.

Practices like this really seem a little self defeating. The studio is asking us to review their movie but deliver it up in such a ridiculous fashion that it takes away from the actual original goal of... er... reviewing the film, not moaning on and on about the way it was presented for review.

Being a digital download movie this, obviously, contained no extras. This is an enjoyable film, It's just a shame that the studio insists on treating reviewers as though they're potential criminals rather than individuals who are helping them promote their wares.

One side note: because some of the actors look very similar (especially later on in the movie when they have all grown beards) those that are not paying attention in the later scenes may have an issue working out the fates of some of the characters.


Darren Rea

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