“12 Strong” is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. There, in the rugged mountains, they must convince Northern Alliance General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers. But despite their uneasy bond, the new allies face overwhelming odds: outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.
Playing the “12 Strong” U.S. Special Forces team are Hemsworth, Shannon, Michael Peña (“The Martian, “Ant-Man”), Trevante Rhodes (“Moonlight”), Geoff Stults (“Only the Brave”), Thad Luckinbill (“Only the Brave”), Austin Stowell (“Bridge of Spies”), Ben O’Toole (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Austin Hebert (“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”), Kenneth Miller (“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”), Kenny Sheard (“13 Hours”) and Jack Kesy (TV’s “The Strain). The ensemble cast also includes Navid Negahban (“American Sniper,” TV’s “Homeland”), Laith Nakli (“24: Legacy”), Fahim Fazli (“American Sniper”), Numan Acar (“Homeland”), Elsa Pataky (the “Fast & Furious” films), William Fichtner (“Black Hawk Down,” “Armageddon”) and Rob Riggle (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Hangover”).
What We Thought:
There’s nothing exactly wrong with 12 Strong, I just didn’t feel the intensity that I expected. I was expecting an edge of your seat type film like 13 Hours or Lone Survivor. Instead I got more story than action, something similar to Only The Brave.
The movie is about the first battles in Afghanistan after 9/11. Twelve soldiers are sent into Afghanistan to meet up with a warlord who, along with his army, are there to take control over a city which is a Taliban stronghold. It’s mountainous terrain and the only way in and out is on horseback. The US’s first victory in Afghanistan was built on soldiers riding horses. We are talking 2001, not 1801.
The action and fighting are very good, but there is a lot of downtime. The movie is a little over 2 hours, but it feels much longer. The fighting looks real and authentic, I just wish there was more of it. Different groups of soldiers split up to surround the Taliban and there are some good explosions, but for some reason it lacked intensity. 13 Hours, the film about Benghazi, kept my eyes on the screen. Both are based on true stories so if you know the story you know what happens, but 13 Hours kept me interested and 12 Strong lost my attention at times.
That’s why it reminds me more of Only The Brave, the firefighter film that came out last year. That is a little over 2 hours as well and it takes most of the movie to get to where you expect the entire movie to be. This has way more action than that, but both feel very drawn out to come to a conclusion we already expect.
I did like the cast a lot though. Chris Hemsworth should be a movie star. Sure people love him as Thor, but for some reason, his non-comic movies just haven’t caught on that well. I thought Rush was great and love The Cabin in the Woods, but not too many people know him beyond The God of Thunder.
Michael Shannon is one of the finest American actors going and Michael Pena is always good whether doing drama or comedy. The surprise to some people will probably be Rob Riggle. He doesn’t have a huge role, but most people only know him for comedies. Rob is actually a former Marine and it’s good seeing him doing a character like this. I actually just saw this on IMDB: In the movie, Riggle plays Colonel Max Bowers, a former battalion commander in the 5th Special Forces Group. In real life Riggle served directly under Bowers in the opening period of the war in Afghanistan.
Overall I enjoyed 12 Strong and it is a very fascinating story. I just wish it wasn’t as drawn out. The action scenes are great, but again I wish there were more of them or at least more often. Hemsworth is every bit a leading man and the cast is strong too. If you’ve enjoyed movies like 13 Hours, Only The Brave and Lone Survivor, then this is…
Cast & Crew:
- Chris Hemsworth
- Michael Shannon
- Michael Pena
- Rob Riggle
Recommended If You Like:
- 13 Hours
- Only The Brave