Movie Review - 12 Strong


It's highly unlikely that there is a person in America born before 1992, that doesn't have a vivid recollection of the events of September 11, 2001. The terror attacks on the U.S. are an indelible mark in American history. Shortly thereafter, Task Force Dagger which was comprised of Special Forces and CIA Operatives were in route Afghanistan, apart of Operation Enduring Freedom. US Army Green Berets Operational Detachment Alpha 595 (ODA 595), led by Captain Mitch Nelson* (Chris Hemsworth) enter the fight under harrowing conditions in the dead of night, just over a month after the 9/11 attacks.

The 12 man team was dropped about 50 miles from the Taliban of stronghold Mazar-I-Sharif. They were to link up with the CIA and the Northern Alliance, led by General Abdul Rashid Dostum and assist his forces in defeating the Taliban. To assist the General, ODA 595 rode horseback alongside his troops, sweeping the countryside for Taliban positions and calling in airstrikes when necessary.

Also known as 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers, is a dramatic retelling of one of the more unique events in American warfare. Unfortunately, this drama wasn't as dramatic as it should've been. There wasn't much chemistry among the team and Michael Shannon was largely underused. Though I'm glad that 12 Strong wasn't full of the typical pro-American machismo that generally fuels films like these; but I wish I were a little bit more invested in the characters. The film's nonchalant tone about the seriousness of the situation left me emotionally divested.

An intriguing and apolitical film about the horse soldiers of Afghanistan, 12 Strong falls somewhere in the middle of action spectacle, 13 Hours (2017) and the gripping Black Hawk Down (2001). I'd have to give credit to the location scouts transforming the rocky terrain of New Mexico into the arid Afghan countryside. Though it's entertaining enough and left me wanting to know more of the real story; there were too many manufactured moments of comic relief and not enough peril, possibly hampered by its PG-13 rating. 12 Strong is a great example of a January release.

*Some names have been changed in the movie.

Verdict: C+

Rated: PG-13 @ 129 mins

NOTE: In IMAX where available

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