12 Strong tells the true story of a group of brave men…not sure how many exactly… who are the dropped into Northern Afghanistan in the earliest days after 9/11. Well…as true a story as you can tell from a film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer…
While the nation is still reacting to the horrific attacks on the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania, these soldiers and paramilitary officers are tasked with making contact and establishing a foothold with potential allies in the Northern Alliance, a resistance force opposing the Taliban and Al-Quaeda.
Based on the book Horse Soldiers by journalist Doug Stanton, 12 Strong follows the soldiers as they adapt to more archaic methods of combat; journeying from one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, to a place that time seems to keep forgetting.
12 Strong is director Nicolai Fuglsig’s first film, and while it is a little paint by numbers, hitting all the fish in a barrel type emotional chords, he does manage to deliver on solid action sequences and a band of brother style emotion after he gets past the obligatory Bruckheimer “badassery.”
Chris Hemsworth (Thor) leads a solid cast and is likable and charming as always. Fuglsig sets up a nice mentor-mentee relationship between Hemsworth’s character and the Northern Alliance General Abdul Dotson (future VP of Afghanistan) played with great gravitas and sly wit by Navid Negahban (set to play the Sultan in the upcoming live-action adaptation of Aladdin). Some exchanges about who should lead and why people follow them are among the best moments of the film.
Michael Pena (CHiPs) does a great job playing Michael Pena, but William Fitcher, who is generally welcome in any film, seems wasted due to his scenes being relegated to the “best of the best of the best” bravado.
Michael Shannon, who is one of the best actors in the game today, doesn’t have a lot to work with here but is so good he can make a mediocre scene into a nice moment by outplaying the dialogue. Shannon is always a great addition to a cast, and that proves true again.
Rob Riggle has a small and forgettable role as a commander whose opinion seems to flip flop scene to scene. Despite what his film indicates, we should all remember, Riggle was the man who eventually killed Osama Bin Laden!
OSAMA! Ben Franklin can suck my balls as well…
12 Strong wasn’t a great film, but it certainly was an enjoyable distraction that gets you through a dreary January day.
Overall, I give 12 Strong 7 “Twelves” out of 10.