If you wanted to write a movie about twelve brave American soldiers who go against the odds in a fight with one of the worlds greatest enemies, 12 Strong would be an example of what not to do.
Even the terrific Michael’s Pena and Shannon can’t save this cliche ridden film.
After the terrorist attack on September 11th 2011, the military swung into high gear. They dropped twelve of their best soldiers deep into Afghanistan to take care of Razzan, one of the leaders of the Taliban. The mission was to team up with a rebel group, find a that Taliban leader and destroy him and his army.
One of the main problems was that no vehicle could go into the mountainous territory. The only way was by horse. So, they join the rebel group, go old-school and mount up. The few against the many.
It’s a great story, to be sure and director Nicolai Fuglsig does a fine job with what he’s given but he’s not given much in the way of a script by Ted Talley, Peter Craig and Doug Stanton. There’s cliche after cliche in lines (“I’m bringing my men home!” among others), situations and characters. The rebel leader General Dostum, played gamely by Navid Negahban, spouts mystic platitudes like, “You’re thinking like a soldier, not with your heart.” There’s even a scene where the soldiers, against all odds, arrive back at the base and a Colonel (William Fichtner) says some smart-ass comment as they pass by. We’ve seen these things over and over and there’s not much newness a director can bring it. Although, the riding the horses into battle does give it a bit of freshness.
Hemsworth is reliable but Pena and Shannon are the ones who always jolt up every scene. Unfortunately, there’s not enough of them to make and entertaining evening.