Directed by Micheal Bay, I was surprised to see him holding back his Bay-ism and deliver a straight forward focused film. The story got a long build up at the start, setting up the location, the characters and the situation. And then chaos. What I liked most about this film was the fact that you felt just as lost as the soldiers and people in this movie. The confusion, the chaos, the uncertainty, it was delivered quite nicely, creating tension and thrill.
There are a lot of characters in the movie, but ultimately it is focused on these soldiers, and while the movie could have done a better job developing them, what it did was good enough in a sense that it worked for the movie. I liked em. Acting varied, with some delivering pretty good performances. Also, again with Micheal Bay restricting himself, there were no stupid side plots or cringe worthy romance for any of the characters. They all had families back home and we got some moments with them, humanizing the soldiers more.
The action was solid. It felt raw and realistic. There were the occasional Micheal Bay's firework explosions and some exaggerated RPG moments, but that's about it. Everything else was great. And this is the movie to watch on a home theater if you own one because sound effects were terrific. The explosions, the guns firing, the bullet impacts, it all sounded really great. Soundtrack was good. And the cinematography was great, it was a good looking movie.
The movie strayed away from political stuff, and just focused on the incident, which made me appreciate it more. The underlying message it was trying to give might have been too heavy handed at times, especially at the end, but it was a good one.
My issues with the movie, other than the ones already mentioned, were that the movie was too long. It took about 40 mins for things to get started and while the build up created the anticipation for what's about to happen, it got too long and slow in some areas. 20 mins shorter and it would have been a much tighter and cleaner film. Also, there are some, few, but some cringe-y scenes attempting to add humor, which stand out like a sore thumb considering most of the movie has a serious tone.
All in all, it was an entertaining watch and shows Micheal Bay still can control himself. I hope the dude gives up on Transformers and does other things, like this, more. Shame that this turned out to be his least grossing film. Definitely a recommended watch.