Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) and Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals,” “The Shape of Water”) star in “12 Strong,” a powerful new war drama from Alcon Entertainment, Black Label Media and Jerry Bruckheimer Films that tells the declassified true story of the first American soldiers sent into Afghanistan after 9/11.
“12 Strong” is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when an elite U.S. Special Forces unit, led by their Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. soldiers sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission in response to the attacks. Leaving their families behind, the team is dropped into the remote, rugged landscape of northern Afghanistan, where they must convince General Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies.
In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers. Despite forming an uneasy bond and growing respect, the new allies face overwhelming odds: vastly outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.
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Playing the “12 Strong” U.S. Special Forces team are Hemsworth, Shannon, Michael Peña (“The Martian, “Ant-Man”), Trevante Rhodes (“Moonlight”), Geoff Stults (“Only the Brave”), Thad Luckinbill (“Only the Brave”), Austin Stowell (“Bridge of Spies”), Ben O’Toole (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Austin Hébert (“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”), Kenneth Miller (“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”), Kenny Sheard (“13 Hours”) and Jack Kesy (TV’s “The Strain). The ensemble cast also includes Navid Negahban (“American Sniper,” TV’s “Homeland”), Elsa Pataky (the “Fast & Furious” films), William Fichtner (“Black Hawk Down,” “Armageddon”) and Rob Riggle (“The Hangover”).
This film has been rated R by the MPAA for war violence and language throughout.
12 Strong is in theaters Friday, January 19, 2018.
Ivey: This week we’re reviewing 12 Strong, starring Chris Hemsworth as the captain of a covert military unit dispatched after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Fonseca: I thought this movie was well done. Great cast and nice to learn a story that almost no one was aware of.
what did you think?
Ivey: I have described it as ‘Black Hawk Down’ with horses. Although these movies are nearly 15 years apart, I think the similarities that they’re both well-made modern war movies. I think for so long, we were used to the WWII standards, and the war isn’t clear cut and romanticized anymore.
Fonseca: Black Hawk Down was not my first thought, but I see what you’re saying. Very realistic as opposed to most World War II movies. The other Black Hawk down connection is producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
And Bruckheimer definitely has the pre-existing clout with his military connections to make 12 Strong as realistic as it is.
I think it ranks with some of the other recent Iraq/Afghanistan war movies like American Sniper and Zero Dark Thirty.
Fonseca: I was fascinated because I wasn’t familiar with the story, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. Apparently, this mission was classified until pretty recently.
As with all “based on a true story” movies, I have to go do some research. The film is based based on a book called Horse Soldiers.
Ivey: Hemsworth (better known as Thor to most moviegoers), volunteers to lead his team of Green Berets and is asked to carve through Afghanistan with a Taliban-hating warlord.
Fonseca: It’s an uneasy alliance with a definite language barrier. The only tongue they have in common is Russian. Hemsworth’s Captain Mitch Nelson knows war strategy, but has not actually been in combat before.
The scenery looks like it was actually filmed in Afghanistan. Turns out parts of New Mexico look like the middle east.
Ivey: The language barrier really adds some much-needed comedic relief.
And the story has a nice amount of philosophy, too. It’s not like 13 Hours which was more shoot’em up and flag-waving.
Fonseca: It’s intense and exciting. If you fall asleep in this movie, its because you have narcolepsy.
Right about the philosophy. The Green Berets and the Afghans each have there own valid reasons for this particular mission and they discuss them throughout. No doing this strictly because its their job.
Besides Hemsworth, there are a number of good actors rounding out the cast.
Ivey: I don’t want to overlook the outstanding cast who are along for the ride. Michael Shannon
Is a wonderful supporting cast member along with Michael Pena and Navid Negahban
Fonseca: Negahban is strong playing General Dostum. I kept thinking he looked familiar and it turns out he played Abu Nazir, the al-Qaeda leader on Homeland.
Ivey: And I suppose Chris Hemsworth now has enough pull to cast his wife Elsa Pataky as his on-screen wife.
Fonseca: I hate when that happens…
He is stuck with a beautiful woman at home and at work.
Lastly, i want to mention the director Nicolai Fuglsig. I have never heard of him and this is apparently his first big budget movie. I think he is going to be drowning in job offers after this one.
Ivey: So what would you rate 12 Strong?
Fonseca: I give it a 4 out of 5. This is not a movie I was anticipating. I only just heard about it recently. This is not Three Billboards or The Post, but as far as modern war movies go this was top notch and a very pleasant surprise.
How about you?
Ivey: I’m going to give it 3 1/2 out of 5. It may get overlooked this time of year with the award nominees and leftover tent poles from Christmas, but it stands tall in the saddle (pun intended).