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“12 Strong” sets a new bar for war films

Written By Nick Brlansky

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American Special Forces riding into battle on horseback with machine guns, what else needs to be said? Well, when it comes to the newest addition to the list of great war movies “12 Strong,” those couple of words won’t do this movie justice. It might not break any box office records, and might not be a frontrunner for many awards. However, it is without a doubt a must-see film. According to boxofficemojo.com, “12 Strong” racked up $900,000 in the box office on its opening night, but fell short of the top mark (which was “Den of Thieves” at $950,000).

“12 Strong” is rated R, has a runtime of 2 hours and 10 minutes and is billed in the genres of action, drama and history. It is the true-life story of rookie Special Forces Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) and his group of highly trained soldiers, who team up with Afghani warlord General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to respond to the terror attacks that took place on September 11, 2001. In fact, they were the very first Americans to respond to those attacks in Afghanistan.

It highlights the strained and complicated partnership between the Americans and the Northern Alliance Freedom Fighters, and the growing pains that took place for these two groups to be able to function as a single unit. It is a cinematic marvel with magnificent establishing shots, intense and unique action shots, as well as timely and humorous comedic relief provided by special forces soldiers Sam Diller (Michael Pena) and Ben Milo (Trevante Rhodes).

This film will engage you from the second the lights in the theater turn off, until the credits roll. It jumps right into the action, while simultaneously giving you all of the important character details to set up the film. I personally sat my popcorn down 15 minutes into the film and couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen. Hemsworth did a masterful job portraying the ideological American butt kicker. His character (Captain Mitch Nelson) portrayed the thoughts and feelings of every American after the horrific events of 9/11; the only difference is that he was in the position to respond immediately.

According to imdb.com, the production cost for this film was $35 million, and they used every single penny of it. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and director Nicolai Fuglsig channeled their inner Michael Bay, implementing countless explosions throughout the entirety of the film. Paradoxically, the film also included an intricate storyline that was heavy on foreshadowing and dialogue payoffs that make the film that much more enjoyable to experience.

It encapsulates the best parts of many of the most recent war movies. It has the psychological aspect of “American Sniper,” the action of “Lone Survivor” and the sense of urgency and frustration of “13 Hours.” This film will give you everything you need out of a war movie, and will leave you wanting to re-watch it as soon as you can.

My rating for this movie is an 8/10. It is cinematically beautifully shot and boasts a fantastic story. However, there were a couple of downfalls, including weak antagonist character development, and the overwhelmingly quick learning curve of the US soldiers to horseback riding. As well as a very awkward final scene that, even if it is a nice wrap up, could’ve been left out. The film is not reliant on Imax to impress, but it is well worth the extra couple of dollars to get the full experience of this heart pounding story. If you’re looking for a fun, visually stunning, action flick, then I highly recommend you see “12 Strong.”

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