Film reviewKaylee Brewster
“12 Strong” is the remarkable, inspiring and exciting true story of real American heroes, even if some parts of the film are weak.
After 9-11, the first boots-on-the-ground response against the Taliban was led by Capt. Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth). The mission was simple: destroy Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan.
The reality was not so simple. They had almost no intelligence on the area. They had to work with a local warlord and his army, operating under different customs, languages and agendas. They had limited supplies and horses to go up against tanks and rockets. They had 12 men and less than six weeks to accomplish their mission. Oh, and they had to stay alive.
The story follows these men as they navigate the unknown. Battles and air strikes keep the action moving. Like any war movie, “12 Strong” doesn’t shy away from scenes of war. Bodies, blood, guns, smoke and explosions cause viewers to worry about characters who represent real people who fought real battles.
But the violence isn’t the driving force of the story — that would be Nelson and General Dostum (Navid Negahban) and their armies.
Nelson is new to the battlefield. Dostum is a seasoned warrior. Nelson knows strategy, figures out the best ways to cripple the Taliban and has the high-grade tech of the American military behind him. Dostum has area knowledge, more forces and knows that in order to win you have to fight for something greater than victory itself. Both have lessons to learn from each other. Their budding relationship gives a “12 Strong” a thriving pulse.
The supporting cast of soldiers provides substance and humor. Characters often crack jokes that lift the movie’s mood or provide deeper insight. But these characters, who get far less screen time than Nelson and Dostum, could have used a bit more development.
As the final battle looms near the film’s end, there are moments when the story drags. It takes a bit too long for the film to get there.
However, like many movies depicting real-life heroes, it’s hard not to get emotional while watching “12 Strong.” While aspects of the film may fall short, it reaches its main objective: telling a story that is nothing short of incredible. “12 Strong” shows the strength of America, not just through military force, but in its ability to move forward despite overwhelming odds of defeat.