Rather than illuminate a conflict that has engulfed our country for nearly a generation, 12 Strong is content to be a third-rate action movie, wasting its talented cast in a well-intentioned but ultimately lackadaisical picture.
Chris Hemsworth ditches his superhero Thor to play a real-life hero in this film based on Doug Stanton's 2009 best-selling historical account Horse Soldiers, about a 12-man US Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig.
The film follows Central Intelligence Agency paramillitary officers and US Army Green Berets in Afghanistan as they take on the forces of Taliban after the brutal 9/11 attacks.
A long-brewing passion project for producer and noted military fetishist Jerry Bruckheimer, 12 Strong is the true story of the first American soldiers who went into Afghanistan following 9/11, and it is the least interesting version of that story imaginable: a monochromatic experience of beige men running through grey terrain, occasionally punctured with explosions or stretches of turgid dialogue about honour and the brotherhood of warriors.
The only moments where 12 Strong becomes remotely interesting is when we get a glimpse of Dostum. "I'm very happy to see you all here!" she said to Latin Times.
Owen Gleiberman, VARIETY: "Chris Hemsworth, in thatchy dark hair and a G.I. Joe scruff, speaking in a manly low voice of superstar resolve, plays the team's captain, Mitch Nelson, who has never been in combat before".
Instead, it's just another rote war movie that would rather be an action film rather than consider the weight of war, whether it's this conflict or any conflict. "The filmmakers make that case mostly with images of September 11 - cut to a man's clenching fist - and through scenes and stories of the Taliban's violence".
The strategy earns them the nickname "Horse Soldiers".