Rotterdam 2024 Review: 13 BOMBS Brings Fire And Noise

Angga Dwimas Sasongko's epic terrorist thriller delivers the action but skips on logic.

Editor, Europe; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
Rotterdam 2024 Review: 13 BOMBS Brings Fire And Noise
The International Film Festival Rotterdam is know for its slant towards new talent, often featuring low-budget arthouse cinema from all over the world. But the festival sometimes also shows the big-budget blockbusters from countries of which the output almost never reaches us. A good example of this is Indonesian director Angga Dwimas Sasongko's action thriller 13 Bom Di Jakarta (13 Bombs in Jakarta), released internationally as 13 Bombs. It's an almost old-fashioned action flick in which a few reluctant heroes are pulled into a situation in which they have to duck, weave and outwit terrorists, explosions and veritable bullet-storms.

Iffr2024-13bom-ext1.jpgWhen a money transport in Jakarta gets spectacularly robbed, Indonesia's anti-terrorist brigade gets called into action because special military ammunition was used and the attackers didn't actually take any money. The attack turns out to be just the start of a terror campaign: the criminals ask for payment in Bitcoin through a specific crypto exchange firm or they will detonate 13 bombs throughout all of Jakarta.

The police immediately arrests William and Oscar, the two young directors of the crypto exchange firm, upon suspicion that they are working for the terrorists. Afraid that they are being framed and desperate to prove their innocence, Oscar and William manage to escape custody just as the terrorist plot thickens. Now, sought after by police, special forces and the terrorists, Oscar and William need to discover what the identity is of Arok, the mysterious leader of the terrorist organisation, and what his plans are. Because Arok's 13th bomb may literally be a world-changing event....

13 Bombs is rumored to be Indonesia's most expensive film ever made, and it sure looks it. Things blow up good and often in this story, and when the shooting starts (or rather when the shootings start), there are thousands of bullets being fired and people flail around by the dozen. Hand to hand combat is less common but when it's there, it is brutal and very well choreographed. The cast consists of local stars, actors, singers, the lot. Everything but the kitchen sink (and maybe even that...) is brought in to lure the audience, including the story. The main reason for the terrorists' actions is tied to a huge real-life financial scandal which rocked Indonesia a few years ago, a plot point which allows director Angga Dwimas Sasongko to poke a bit at general feelings of social injustices which currently exist there. Juxtapositioning newly rich crypto-yuppies against police, government and "the poor" is a nice touch and makes for some nice allegiance-guessing.

As the audience you are rollercoastered through all of this at high speed for a whopping two hours and twenty minutes which is exhausting. That speed is necessary though. Because if you'd be allowed to think for even a minute, you would notice many things do not make a lick of sense, especially when the 13th bomb apocalypse threat comes into play. And with that length, the film outlives its welcome.

But what you do get is a solid piece of entertainment with spectacular use of locations, likeable leads and surprisingly grey-shaded villains. It's not The Raid, it's like several Raids stitched together in a way that doesn't quite gel. Still, I had fun, and the Rotterdam audiences awarded the film a 3.5 out of 5.

13 Bombs

  • Angga Dwimas Sasongko
  • Angga Dwimas Sasongko
  • Mohammad Irfan Ramly
  • Ardhito Pramono
  • Lutesha
  • Chicco Kurniawan
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Angga Dwimas SasongkoMohammad Irfan RamlyArdhito PramonoLuteshaChicco KurniawanActionCrimeThriller

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