"12 Strong" Movie Review

Updated on August 22, 2019
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

12 Strong
12 Strong | Source

Just a few months after dazzling Thor: Ragnarok audiences as one of the more audacious and ludicrous superheroes around, Chris Hemsworth is playing a superhero yet again—only this time it’s a real-life one, and the story is, amazingly, just as unbelievable. As Green Beret Captain Mitch Nelson in 12 Strong, Hemsworth plays the leader of a twelve-man squad who were given a mission even more impossible than defeating the evil Hela. Less than a month after 9/11, Nelson and shipped halfway around the world to prep for a hopeless battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Woefully outnumbered and consigned to riding horses against enemy tanks and rocket launchers, Operational Detachment Alpha 595 shouldn’t have lasted the week, but instead theirs became one of the most inspirational stories in the fight against the Taliban. Based on the book by Doug Stanton, 12 Strong focuses on Nelson, who is introduced as a family man getting ready to take his daughter to school on the morning of September 11. Within an hour he’s at the Army base trying to convince his superior to let him take a team into action.

Once in Afghanistan, Nelson’s team is picked to be the first into battle. Their primary mission is to get close enough to Taliban camps to provide exact coordinates for bomber strikes, but secondarily Nelson has to play diplomat with Afghan General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is skeptical not only of the Americans but also of his fellow generals in the Northern Alliance. If things weren’t prickly enough, the mission begins with Nelson supported by only half his team; there are only so many horses to go around.

As the climactic battle in the Taliban stronghold of Mazar-i Shariff approaches, Nelson learns that the Army is deploying a back-up squad to fight alongside one of Dostum’s Alliance rivals. When Dostum finds out, he bails on his own mission, taking his soldiers with him and leaving Nelson’s team alone to take on an entire Taliban army.

Cue the charge of the Light Brigade.

Director Nicolai Fuglsig, making his American feature film debut, does an admirable job choreographing the battle scenes, though they pale in comparison to the in-your-face, gritty action of films like Ridley Scott’s outstanding 2001 Black Hawk Down. The whole film, in fact, feels fairly sanitized, as if everyone behind the scenes is playing it safe, including screenwriters Ted Tally (who hasn’t been heard from since 2002’s Red Dragon) and Peter Craig. The script is weighed-down with eyeroll-worthy clichés such as the ol’ military movie trope of being told to fight with your heart and not your head. And every character, including Nelson, is shortchanged any exposition or personality, making it virtually impossible to see each of them as anything other than a random camo-clad soldier.

Hemsworth and company, including the always-great Michael Peña and Michael Shannon, do fine work in their underwritten roles, and there’s no denying that the overarching story is a powerful and moving one. As a war flick, 12 Strong does a okay job, but with a little more nuance and attention to detail it could have been something truly worthy of the men and their incredible mission.


3/5 stars

'12 Strong' trailer


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)