May 13, 2024

12 STRONG (4K): Heroes on Horsies!

2018 / 130 min
Available at
Review by Mr. Bonnie, the Bulldozer😼

12 Strong is another modern war movie based on true events. In this case, it’s an elite squad of Green Berets deployed to cripple the Taliban shortly after the 9/11 attacks. It’s a story that is certainly conducive to a gripping, intense action film, but while one isn’t likely to regret seeing it, they’re equally unlikely to give it much thought afterwards.

Following the attacks, Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) demands to leave his desk assignment and lead his former team into Uzbekistan, where they’ll work with the Northern Alliance, a band of militia lead by General Dostum (Navid Negahban), who has no love for the Taliban. It’s an uneasy partnership at first, but over the course of three weeks, they make their way (on horses!) toward the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, an Al-Qaeda/Taliban stronghold, engaging in numerous skirmishes along the way.

From a technical standpoint, there’s a lot to like about 12 Strong. The film boasts plenty of intense action sequences, explosions and fire-fights, punctuated by dialogue and strategic exposition that feels authentic. If nothing else, the viewer is well-aware of the logistics of the mission and what’s at stake. But while the film’s earnestness and reverence for its subjects is never in question, the narrative itself is largely unremarkable. The action is big, loud and well-executed, but there’s an overall sameness to everything that threatens to become rote.

"Gas her up when you bring her back."
Not helping matters is an overall lack of interesting characters. They may all be based on real people, but beyond their names, we don’t learn much about them other than a few who have families waiting back home. They’re essentially just a batch of gung-ho soldiers blasting their way from one fight to the next. For a movie showcasing real-life American heroism, it’s almost ironic that the most interesting character is General Dostum. Still, the cast - which also includes Michael Shannon, Michael Peña and Trevante Rhodes - does a commendable job with the roles they’ve been given.

At 130 minutes, 12 Strong is too long for a movie that has relatively little to say about the men or the mission. It remains watchable and looks great in 4K, but for a movie depicting what’s supposedly a pivotal event in the war on terror, it isn’t particularly memorable.


FEATURETTES - 12 Strong: The Making of an Impossible Mission; Monumental Effort: Building America’s Response Monument.

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