REVIEW: 12 Strong

Review by Dustin Heller

12 Strong is the new wartime drama starring Chris Hemsworth that tells the declassified true story of the Horse Soldiers.  Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, the movie is based on Doug Stanton’s non-fiction book Horse Soldiers.  Alongside Thor, the film stars Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, William Fichtner, and Rob Riggle.  The movie is rated R for war violence and language throughout.

Following the terrorist attacks in New York City on 9/11, a group of U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers (U.S. Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 595) is deployed to Afghanistan for a counterstrike against the Taliban.  These twelve brave men were the first unit to enter the hostile territory after the attacks, with the mission to take control of Taliban-occupied city of Mazar-i-Sharif.  Along with the help of General Abdul Rashid Dostum of the Northern Alliance, the unit is tasked with providing coordinates of the Taliban bases in order to send in airstrikes.  With all the odds stacked against them, the men march forward with the goal of winning the battle and returning home safely to their families.

12 Strong is the type of film that will make you proud to be an American.  The harsh reality is that war is very real and, unfortunately, necessary at times.  So, whether you are pro-war or anti-war, what these twelve men did was nothing short of miraculous and truly heroic.  Even though the film is about military action and has a lot of bloodshed, it also has a big heart and peeks into the personal lives of these brave men and what they had to sacrifice.

The drama is a bit heavy-handed at times with an overpowering score and an unnecessary amount of slow motion, but it doesn’t detract from the overall impact of the film.  The realism of the filmmaking is very impressive as you feel transported right into the action in Afghanistan right along with the soldiers.  It is a beautifully shot film with some really nice artistic flair.

Chris Hemsworth loses the Australian accent and plays Captain Mitch Nelson to perfection.  He has quite a screen presence and is quickly becoming one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood.  The entire cast was spot-on and showed impeccable on-screen chemistry.  I’m pretty sure that the events in the film hit home to all of us, so it is something special to see it played out on the big screen.

I hope these men that sacrificed their lives for the greater good feel honored with this film.  If you are a red-blooded American that loves your country, you are going to love this movie.

Grade:  B+

12 Strong opens in theaters on Friday, January 19