A Weak Effort for ’12 Strong’

by Christian Ramos on January 18, 2018

in Print Reviews,Reviews

 [Rating: Minor Rock Fist Down] 

January seems to be the time of the year when movies want to remind you to keep up with your American patriotism for the next eleven months. In recent years there have been such movies as 13 Hours, Lone Survivor, American Sniper and now 12 Strong directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, the newest in the lineup of testosterone induced patriotic spectacles.

12 Strong details a post 9/11 U.S. Special Forces team lead by Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) and his team as they track through Afghanistan mountains to liberate a Taliban stronghold that could turn the tide in a war soon to come.

This movie … probably wasn’t meant for me. I don’t like a war pictures that do a lot to glorify war for the United States and making sure the audience knows people in other countries are a lot worse than us. 12 Strong tries to make a good example out of “the enemy” by showing Nelson befriend and trust in General Adbul Rashid Dostum (Navid Neganhban) to get the team to where they need to go. This wasn’t a happy time for anybody going into the mountains with pretty much nobody in the entire world knowing what was happening or these men even knowing if they would accomplish their mission.

12 Strong is written by Peter Craig and Ted Tally (of The Silence of the Lambs fame who knew!?) and yet, the script is so cliche in reminding us if the men don’t succeed, something like 9/11 would happen again.

This, along with literal breaks in the mountains to talk about the same things at least four separate times, and having scenes you obviously know are here (I’m looking at you soldier who gives kid a lollipop and teaches him how to eat it). This all serves to make the movie’s already two-hour-plus run time go by a little bit more slowly.

One of the weirdest things to know going into this movie, was the fact the subheading is The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers. Horse soldiers as in these men literally fought off a good chunk of the Taliban off on horses. The Taliban had tanks and bazookas and these men survived all of that on horses. And you easily forget this is a story about “horse soldiers” until one of the later fighting scenes when the horses finally do something! I’m glad in the end, a horse and soldier are now getting the recognition from this story after a decade or so of being classified from the American public.

12 Strong is not a good attempt at driving home American patriotism. If this were maybe 30 minutes shorter, I would have liked it more. I would have liked it more if it didn’t ram the concept of “if the mission fails, America fails” into my brain the entire time.

Not even Thor himself on a horseback or the great cast of Michael Shannon, Michael Peña or Trevante Rhodes who is severely underused here, could help this movie out. It’s a shame too because this is such an interesting and important story that lays a foundation for even more battles to come.

Christian Ramos is a recent graduate of KU with a B.A. in Film & Media Studies. When he’s not watching movies, he likes to brag about the pointless Oscar trivia he knows, remembers that time he dressed as Steven Spielberg for Halloween and shows off his tweet that Julianne Moore liked.

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