12 Strong Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes
Published Jan 17, 2018There's not a whole lot you can do with "American soldiers ride horses in Afghanistan," but leave it to Hollywood to deliver an entire two-hour film about it. Based on the true story of a dozen soldiers who were sent to Afghanistan mere weeks after 9/11 to team up with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, 12 Strong is heavy on the action but light on heart, with a story so lifeless that not even the image of hunky alpha bros stumbling around on horses can make it entertaining.
Chris Hemsworth was brilliantly charismatic last year in Thor: Ragnarok, but his performance in 12 Strong is shockingly dull, rendering his Captain Mitch Nelson as little more than a rugged hunk of muscle. Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) has fun moments as wise cracking Sergeant Ben Milo, but Hemsworth's no-nonsense attitude sucks out a lot of the film's energy.
Not that the film's attempts at humour are any better. Literally every single heartfelt moment is immediately undermined by misogyny under the guise of locker room talk between soldiers, and this as the film's only source of levity makes the soldiers awfully hard to like.
There's nothing of worth here other than for the adrenaline rush of its action sequences, which are often dragged out longer than they needed to be. Stoking a stale, pro-military sentiment, the horses are the only thing that sets this film apart, and by the time the climax nears, they're all but forgotten. 12 Strong is a lazy attempt at injecting something fresh into the 9/11 narrative, and makes you wonder why they bothered trying to change it up in the first place. (Warner Bros.)