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12 Strong: Movie Review

The new war-drama, “12 Strong” is based on the non-fiction book, “Horse Soldiers” which tells the story of a group of U.S. Special Forces soldiers that were deployed to Afghanistan immediately after the September 11th attacks. Their mission was to take down the Taliban.  What these 12 men were able to accomplish with the help of Afghan Warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum, and his army is most impressive. Even more so that not a single member of Task Force Dagger lost their lives.  To top it all off, they completed their mission on horseback.  Here we have an amazing story about true heroes with a great cast, so how come “12 Strong” is so incredibly mediocre?

Director Nicolai Fuglsig has only directed one other project, a 2017 film that I have never heard of called “Exfil”. The lack of experience could explain why “12 Strong” feels so uneven and poorly paced.  As much as I love the cast in general (put William Fichtner in almost anything and I will be happy), they just don’t work here.  Chris Hemsworth takes the lead as Captain Mitch Nelson and this is one of the film’s biggest problems.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Hemsworth but here he seems like he is starring in a generic action war film rather than a true story. There is even a line earlier in “12 Soldiers” about him being superhuman when he choses to stand guard instead of resting.

Although they are two completely different stories, last fall’s “Thank You for Your Service” (which was also a story about soldiers), rang true. I believed what was going on with those characters. With “12 Strong”, I had a hard time buying into the characters, even knowing it was based on true events. The cast is good here, but the writing and direction has some serious issues.

Jerry Bruckheimer isn’t usually the go-to guy when you think of war-drama producers. This is the guy that has delivered mostly Hollywood blockbuster action films like “Top Gun” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Even though he helped bring “2001’s “Black Hawk Down”, we can’t forget that the same year he was behind the dreadful, “Pearl Harbor”. Admittedly, “12 Strong” is better than that mess. This isn’t a bad movie, it’s just uninspired which is not good when you are trying to tell an inspiring story. Even in the climatic action sequence, I found myself yawning out of boredom.

By: Marc Ferman