12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers
So Thor, Zod, and Michael Pena are walking across the desert, stop me if you’ve heard this one...
12 Strong is a film I have been looking forward to since I first saw its trailer. In the past year there have been a growing number of war films that have really revitalized the genre. From American Sniper, to Lone Survivor, to 13 Hours. Now we welcome 12 Strong to that list as it is the next in the line of war films to help push this genre back to light.
With a strong cast, and a well-developed plot, 12 Strong follows the story of 12 soldiers that are sent to Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and written by Ted Tally and Peter Craig. The film is a true story based on Doug Stanton's book Horse Soldiers.
The film follows a team that make their way through Afghanistan. After the attacks on the World Trade Center, 12 soldiers were sent to the Middle East to team up with General Abdul Rashid Dostum, leader of one the packs of the Northern Alliance. Once they have met they travel from village to village battling the Taliban and forcing them back. In hopes of taking the village of Mazar-i-Sharif, a strong hold that will win the war with the Taliban.
The story is intense and thrilling. Throughout the majority of the film you are sitting on the edge of you chair enthralled in the action and story that is taking place. Not knowing the outcome of the soldiers of the true story, the film keeps the tension strong.
The humor pretty much all goes off without a hitch. Many one liners that really work in the moments. Films like this have a tendency to plug in humor at the wrong moments, or force it in to film when it doesn’t fit. However everyone in 12 Strong has great comedic timing and is able to deliver the humor without the expense of the serious tones of the situations.
With a who’s who of today’s talent, 12 Strong is packed from top to bottom. Chris Hemsworth who has made a name for himself as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but has had trouble stepping outside of Asguard, stars as Capt. Mitch Nelson who leads this group of soldiers through the desert on their mission to Afghanistan.
Michael Shannon is always a stand out in every film you see him in, and this is no different. He brings gravitas to the role, with a subtle performance. The real strength in this project is the chemistry of the cast. From top to the bottom, the cast feels like real people, with real relationships.
The Issues are few and far in between, however there are a few. The film has a few moments early on that kind of drag on. They could’ve benefitted from a few more passes in the editing room. Not to mention that as the film is only a shade over 2 hours, the weight can be felt. While the third act is incredible and flows through easily, the first and second can run long.
There is a lot of dialog in other languages. Many other languages and not all of it are subtitled. There were times that I wondered it if this was a mistake on the films part, until finally a few conversations were subtitled. So I do not know what the logic behind the lack of subtitles was but it definitely took me out of the film.
As the squad moves from location to location we are given the titles and locations of the teams with many different military terms. As someone who did not know what the majority of locations were, it was very difficult to keep up with. Another aspect of the film that really took me out of it.
All in All
12 Soldiers is a great war film. It is intense, inspiring, and full of heart. It makes you remember how proud of our men and women who defend us we all should be. The third act is an incredible action piece that never loses sight of the heart of the film, or is over the top. It can drag in the middle, but never so much that you are taken out of the film.