Not wanting to see a film about war, 12 Strong convinced me how wrong I was. After its conclusion, I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to have seen 12 Strong. It is a true story about US Special Forces who entered Afghanistan one month after 9/11 and help to capture the Taliban stronghold Mazari-i Sharif. Based on Doug Stanton's book, The Horse Soldiers, the nickname of the Army's Fifth Special Forces unit, this is a story of perseverance against all odds and the belief in oneself to confront danger. Captain Mitch Nelson played by Chris Hemsworth kills it with the right blend of humility, stubbornness and courage. Days after 9/11 Captain Nelson’s Special Forces have been given thirty days to capture this Taliban stronghold or it will be too late. “This is almost impossible,” Captain Nelson is told. “I can do it, Sir,“ he says.
This is a death mission. The Special Forces only have 12 horses and soldiers to find the Taliban hidden in caves in the rugged mountainside of Afghanistan. Captain Nelson leads this charge into what has to be a massacre. The final scene of Captain Nelson leading 12 men charging on horseback directly into the onslaught of torpedoes and artillery will leave an indelible mark on your consciousness. I was holding onto my seat, my neighbor. All 12 soldiers not only kill the Taliban, but they and their horses live. Jerry Bruckheimer produced this brave film and as in all of Bruckeimer's work the cinematography is over the top and is accompanied with magnificent sound that adds to the suspense. The cast directed by Nicolai Fuglsig is terrific with stellar performances by Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Rob Riggle and Navid Negabaum as General Dostrum who Afghan and leads the Northern Alliance who is on America’s side. Negabaum’s performance is one of the highlight of this feast of testosterone. But it is Rob Riggle who served in the Marine Corps prior to being an actor and who was actually stationed at Mazar-i-Shariff. In 12 Strong Riggle plays his own commanding officer at the time, Max Bowers. You may remember Rob Riggle from The Hangover, The Other Guy and The Daily Show. It was tough to sit through the murder of a mother of two small children because she educated her children beyond their eight years. Only one American woman is in the film and she is portrayed by Chris Hemsworth real life wife, Elsa Pataky who is terrific. It is devastating to witness a country killing women for educating children. While we American woman are fighting for our rights in the #Me Too movement, Afghan women are being murdered if educated. It is important we are made aware of this tragedy
The dialogue in 12 Strong is crisp, minimal and actually funny at times. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of 12 Strong and how uplifting it is. Because of this film we are reminded of the 12 soldiers on horseback who led the first defeat of the Taliban, and lived to tell us of their courageous stand. 12 Strong is riveting.