12 Strong is Jerry Bruckeimer’s first war film since “BlackHawk Down” came out in 2001. It’s based on the story Horse Soldiers, by Doug Stanton, which is based on a true story of 12 special forces soldiers whose mission is to capture a major Taliban headquarters immediately after 9/11. The movie stars Chris Hemsworth (Captain Mitch Nelson) as the team Captain, who’s never seen war but trained extensively, Michael Shannon (Hal Spencer) as the salty sergeant, and Michael Pena (Sam Diller) Chris’s trusted partner.
The movie starts with Capt. Nelson moving to Ft. Cambell, where the special forces unit he’s assigned to is stationed. He’s promising his daughter he’ll be home every night. The next day, 9/11 happens, changing the course of history.
He has to fight to get his team back for various reasons, and requests to be deployed. He and his team arrive in Afganistan and are some of the first American troops on the ground. In true military wisdom, they’re sent somewhere few know the language and even fewer know anything about the culture other than it’s incredibly oppressive to women. (To demonstrate this the movie portrays a school teacher being executed for teaching girls older than 8 how to read and spell.)
From the minute they arrive in country, the soldiers are tested, from the ground, lack of equipment and knowledge of the area or language, to their mission itself, as the Afgani warlord they’re assigned to seems to thwart them or with hold vital information from them at every turn.
The Afgani General, Dostum, (played by Navid Negahban) has his own agenda, which is to get to the town the special forces team wants to get to before other warlords so he can claim it for himself. (Even though he opposed Al Qaeda and the Taliban, he hates the opposing warlords even more). Capt. Nelson has to earn his trust and respect while dealing with these issues.
The movie itself is very good. If you’ve seen Black Hawk Down, you can get an idea of what the movie will look and feel like. Visually, it’s captivating and draws you in. The action is thrilling, and the fact that these tough special forces soldiers are forced to complete their mission on horses when most have never even seen a horse adds a touch of levity to an otherwise dark movie. You learn about the main characters, especially Capt. Nelson and Michael Shannon’s character, but the only critique I had was I barely knew anything about the rest of the team other than what we were shown on screen. They have great chemistry and the acting is spot on if a little predictable at times, but it moves very quickly and if you haven’t read the book, keeps you engaged.
All in all, a fun entertaining film that I’d definitely recommend you see in the theaters, especially in IMAX if it’s available. If you’ve seen the movie, comment below and tell me what you thought of it. If you haven’t, let me if you do and what you thought of it. As always, enjoy the movie and let’s discuss.