“12 Strong” stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes, Navid Negahban, William Fichtner, and Rob Riggle. Released on January 19, 2018, the film has the CIA paramilitary officers and the U.S. Special Forces traveling to Afghanistan to fight against Taliban forces.
The film features the directorial debut of Nicolai Fuglsig, a photojournalist from Denmark. It is based on the non-fiction book, Horse Soldiers, by Doug Stanton. The September 11 attacks were some of the most memorable and tragic moments in human history. Many films were made depicting the events surrounding 9/11, but what if there’s one that chronicles an event after 9/11? An event that we didn’t know about until now? This latest war film comes from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and seeing that he produced other war films like Black Hawk Down and Pearl Harbor, this makes a whole lot of sense. There were a couple of war films that I really enjoy, such as Hacksaw Ridge and last year’s Dunkirk. Will this one impress me as well?
The film’s story depicts the declassified true story of a group known as the “Horse Soldiers”. Lead by Captain Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), the team heads to Afghanistan to conduct warfare against the Talibans while riding on horses, hence the name “Horse Soldiers”. OK, so they don’t actually call themselves the “Horse Soldiers”, but I have to admit, it is a pretty cool name. One of my favorite moments of any war film is the witty bantering between the characters when they’re not shooting down the enemy, and this film is no different. The main cast who portrayed the members of the team did a really nice job at making them likable despite the film’s inability to provide some emotional depth in the characters and its usual action war storyline. I can easily understand what they’re going for, but if they’re attempting to make the next Black Hawk Down or the next Saving Private Ryan, they could’ve done a lot better in terms of the film’s post-9/11 commentary. Hemsworth did his part quite well as Mitch Nelson as well as Shannon and Peña as Cal Spencer and Sam Diller, respectively. The war sequences between Mitch’s team and the Talibans are my main highlights of the film. Even though Fuglsig wasn’t that much of a storyteller, he sure knows how to capture some realistic action that kept me hanging until the very end. Keep in mind that it’s directed by a photojournalist.
Overall, it’s not going to win any awards for “Best War Movie”, but “12 Strong” is an action-packed ride that honors the unrecognizable and impossible mission that took place after 9/11. As a first-time director, Fuglsig did a very nice job at making the cast likable as well as making the action entertaining and fierce. It might not impress a lot of people who wanted a strong character-driven war film, but for those who want a by-the-numbers action film that honors the brave heroes who survived the unclassified mission, it’s an enjoyable piece of war entertainment.