Release Date: January 19, 2017
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
Writer: Ted Tally, Peter Craig
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, Geogg Stults, Thad Luckinbill, Austin Hebert, Austin Stowell, Ben O’Toole, Kenneth Miller, Kenny Sheard, Jack Kesy, Rob Riggie, William Fichtner, Arshia Mandavi, Elsa Pataky, Marie Wagenman, Allison King, Samuel Kamphuis, Samuel Kamphuis, Lauren Myers, Laith Nakli, Fahim Fazli, Numan Acar, Peter Malek, Matthew Van Wettering, Timothy Kamphuis, Jahan Khalili, Seth Adkins
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 130 minutes
Production Company: Alcon Entertainment, Black Label Media, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Lionsgate
Genre: Action, Drama, History, War
12 Strong is based the book ‘Horse Soldiers’ which tells the true story of the now declassified mission of 12 brave men deployed to Afghanistan to combat the Taliban forces following the horrific events of 9/11 while on horses. The film is being directed by Nicolai Fuglsig with this being only his second film with him behind the camera.
Fuglsig takes full advantage of the real-life event, early on showing clips of the attack, and all the soldier’s frustration as they learn about that tragic day. By doing this, he’s attempting to affect you emotionally to draw you into the story, and without any hesitation, Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) wants payback and is eager to engage in battle for who he feels is responsible. With this being based on true events, I’m not sure why Hemsworth still has an accent in the film, but besides that, he’s once again a leading man, being one of the highlights of the entire film. He’s convincing on every level and comes across as a man who genuinely wants to serve without an iota of fear.
What also deserves recognition is the relationship that’s built between Hemsworth character, Captain Nelson and Afghan Warlord General Dostum. If it weren’t for these two going back and forth, the film wouldn’t have been anything more than soldiers out to kill bad guys which would be accurate, but it does not contain any depth. Though while the film is enjoyable, there is no depth throughout the film as a whole.
The cap that William Fichtner had to wear was a distraction, and with the rest of the film containing a large amount of action, it all felt like a walk through. I understand the film wants to paint these men as heroic, and I don’t mean to take away the hard work and dedication that they had to go through to accomplish their mission, but the whole encounter seemed unrealistic. It was as if each man was bulletproof, to say the least, and other than Hal Spencer (Michael Shannon) who barely took on any damage at no point in any of the battles did I feel an ounce of suspense or have the thought that anyone was in any real danger. Without knowing the story, I knew everyone was going to survive, and the last assault felt like a video game with you as the player in control of your own destiny.
I can’t put myself in the shoes of the men that made the grand sacrifice for being on the front line to protect America before anyone else, but the way it was portrayed in the film seems like a disservice to them as if their will to fight was nothing more than a few drills done in a large backyard.