12 Strong is the true story of a U.S. Special forces team sent to Afghanistan after 9/11. Their mission was to fight with Afghanistan militias against the Taliban.
I have to be honest and say I went into this film with some huge reservations about this being a typical American jingoistic propaganda film based on the trailers and posters. And whilst there are small elements of that here and there, I was actually pleasantly surprised to find something more. Whilst you will get to see retirement papers being torn up and get told they will have to “write the playbook on this one” there is also a minor effort to explain the tribalism and invasions in Afghanistan before this war. It’s a welcome change for an American war movie to try in a small way to point out the complexity of the situation.
Whilst the team is 12 Strong there is only really time to give us three sketched out characters. Chris Hemsworth plays Captain Mitch Nelson (idealistic), Michael Shannon plays Hal Spencer (out of retirement) and Michael Pena plays Sam Diller (wise cracker). The rest of the team will become familiar faces but nothing more. In fact the best character and performance comes from David Negahban as Afghan General Dostum. His insight into the history of Afghanistan gives the film depth.
Ultimately though the film is about putting together some tense battles and these are well shot and readily comprehensible. Horses versus tanks makes for an exciting watch!