Just saw this last night; I had read the book by Jake Tapper a few years back and really enjoyed it.
It was pretty good, especially the climactic final battle (which is about half the move). But because it hews pretty close to the book and thus the true story, it lacks a fair amount of dramatic tension and character building that you would find in a fictional story (though they do succeed a bit with one character).
My main problem with it is the same issue I have with many war movies: it’s really difficult to tell the young, mostly white, buzz-cut characters apart. Blackhawk Down (still a superior movie) had the same problem, but it’s worse in this one mostly because they seemed to go out of their way to cast actors who look like the original marines… they did a great job of this, but their faces mostly wash together. In most scenes you’re not exactly sure who you are looking at, or what their jobs are.
Second issue: The locations were kind of tough to suss out. Again, this movie compares poorly to BhD in this respect – Scott’s establishing shots and occasional overhead “surveillance” cuts gave you a pretty good idea where people were and how they related to one another.
This movie tries really hard to do the same thing (and there is one scene were they explicitly spell out what you’re going to see later on), but somehow it doesn’t work, mostly because there are several locations that look identical and pretty much all the architecture is the same from almost every angle.
Much of the climactic scene focuses on some marines trapped in a vehicle, but it is one of like four such vehicles and there isn’t any real sense of why they are trapped when everyone else seems to be running around between identical cinder-block buildings in the fairly small base.
That criticism aside, I thought that the battle scenes did a great job of showing the danger and the sense of being assailed from all sides with no place to hide. The lead-up to the battle and especially the constant replacement of officers was well-done.
And man but the Eastwood genes are strong – Clint’s son is a dead ringer for his dad, squinty eyes, raspy voice and all.