The release next week of “13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” — which tells the true story of the security contractors who responded to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya — may force Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to wade back into a debate she hoped would be behind her, political watchdogs said.

“Anything that keeps the Benghazi issue alive is a negative for Hillary Clinton. Period,” said Cornell University law professor William Jacobson. “Whether it’s a movie, or an event, or a hearing — anything that keeps this alive is not good for her. That’s not what she wants to be talking about.”

The big-budget action-drama, directed by Michael Bay, is focused on the American contractors who valiantly battled the terrorists who overran the compound on Sept. 11, 2012, and killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, U.S. State Department communications expert Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, a Winchester native.

Clinton, who was U.S. secretary of state at the time of the attack, has been roundly criticized for not doing enough to secure the consulate, and was forced to defend herself against the allegations during a grueling, daylong appearance before the Republican-led Select Committee on Benghazi in October.

The movie, starring Newton native John Krasinski and Toby Stephens, will be released by Paramount Pictures on Jan. 15,less than a month before the Iowa caucus, an inopportune time for Clinton’s campaign, Jacobson said.

“This takes an issue that is not good for her out of her control and pushes it out into popular culture, which is much worse for her than having it discussed on cable news,” Jacobson said.

But Democratic strategist Matt Bennett disagreed, dismissing the Benghazi debate as a “ridiculous red herring that Republicans are trying to pursue for political purposes.”

“The issues at play in this primary have nothing whatsoever to do with Benghazi,” he said.

“Because it’s not an issue in the primary, and because the primary is what is in front of her for the next several months, by the time Republicans have the opportunity to really go after her, this will be long gone.”

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