12 Strong is the story of the first armed Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11. The team must work with together with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña.
When you think of Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean films & Armageddon) and a war movie, reserved is not usually the word that comes to mind. However in this story based upon the book, Horse Soldiers, that is exactly what we get. Bruckheimer mixes scenes of battle with scenes of quite interaction between the characters in a way the keeps the film from delving to far into extremes. Chris Hemsworth gives a solid performance as a young captain leading a veteran special forces team against the Taliban in response to the terror attack that occurred in America on 9-11-2001. What makes this film work is the supporting cast around Hemsworth. Michael Shannon who plays a veteran munitions specialist, takes a relatively uninteresting role and gives it the Michael Shannon touch, showing us that he continues to do no wrong. The other Michael, ‘Penya,’ gives us the comic relief needed for a subject matter that is quite heavy.
The film is shot beautifully and is well worth seeing on a big screen and should play well to mainstream audiences. One knock against the film might be the neatness of how all the factions of the Northern Alliance all seem to get along in the film. Afghanistan in the early 2000’s was a divisive and complex military and political situation. People informed about the politics of the day will probably find the portrayal of the Northern Armies a little shallow if not laughable.
There is no real exploration of faith in the movie. Whether there was a fear of backlash for portraying religion in the film or not, it would have been interesting to see both Christianity and Islam represented in the film.
3 1/2 stars out of 5.