January 24, 2018

12 Strong: Bestseller Adaptation Describes the Special Forces Unit Sent to Afghanistan

By Kam Williams

A few days after the 9/11 attack, President George W. Bush visited Ground Zero where he delivered an iconic speech while standing on a pile of rubble. He assured the rescue workers and the rest of America that those responsible for the senseless slaughter would soon be held accountable.

Less than a month later, the first contingent of soldiers was sent to Afghanistan. Their top secret operation, code named Task Force Dagger, called for them to be dropped behind enemy lines and rendezvous with a local militia led by General Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban).

The American Special Forces unit, composed of a dozen elite soldiers, was led by Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth). He was not only confident that the mission would be successful, but made the bold guarantee that no one under his command would perish in battle. 

Because of the rugged terrain, they were forced to negotiate their way through the mountains on horseback, which also helped them blend in with the locals. Whenever they encountered Taliban forces, they were outnumbered and outgunned. However, according to plan, they were always able to improve their odds by calling in air support from B-52 bombers.

Thus unfolds 12 Strong, a true story of extraordinary heroism in the face of overwhelming odds. Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig (Exfil), the movie is based on Horse Soldiers, Doug Stanton’s bestseller describing the declassified exploits of a brave group of Special Forces soldiers.

The movie stars Chris Hemsworth and an impressive support cast that includes Michael Shannon, William Fichtner, Michael Pena, Rob Riggle, and Trevante Rhodes. Reminiscent of the John Wayne classics The Longest Day (1962) and Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), this patriotic war film is a crowd-pleaser.

Very Good (***). Rated R for violence and pervasive profanity. Running time: 130 minutes. Production Studios: Alcon Entertainment/Black Label Media/Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.