“12 Strong” (2018) Review

The aftermath of 9/11 was a troublesome time. A time when the whole nation grieved even these 12 men that were the first to go to war with the Taliban after their attack on the World Trade Centers. Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) is at home unpacking boxes with his wife Jean (Elsa Pataky). He tells Maddy (Marie Wagenman), his daughter, that he will be taking her to school when she turned on the news. The towers had just been hit. Nelson goes into his office where he asks Lt. Colonel Bowers (Rob Riggle) for his team back and an airlift to Afganistan. He is denied until Hal Spencer (Michael Shannon) tells Bowers that they are the only team that knows the area and will only serve under Nelson.

Before they are shipped off to war, Hal and Sam Diller (Michael Peñaare seen with their families. Marsha (Allison King) and Jake Spencer (Samuel Kamphuis) are upset that Hal is going back to war. They do not give him the goodbye that he wanted while Diller’s wife, Lisa (Lauren Myers), “understood” what she got herself into when she started her relationship; she wanted her children to know why he is going away.

They go to the base that is about 90 miles outside Taliban territory. Nelson and Spencer talk to Colonel Mulholland (William Fichtner) and Bowers about their honest plan and what is going to happen when they are the first to fight. Mulholland is shocked by 12-strong-poster-2 (1)Nelson’s remarks but sees that he is the only one being truthful so Nelson leads his men, Hal, Sam, Ben Milo (Trevante Rhodes), Sean Coffers (Geoff Stults), Vern Michaels (Thad Luckinbill), Pat Essex (Austin Hébert), Fred Falls (Austin Stowell), Scott Black (Ben O’Toole), Kevin Jackson (Kenneth Miller), Bill Bennett (Kenny Sheard), and Charles Jones (Jack Kesy).

After being dropped off, they meet up with General Dostum (Navid Negahban) and his warriors. He knows the landscape and territory that they will be traveling through. Hal is the oldest looking person so Dostum tries to only talk to Hal even though Nelson is in charge. This causes some trouble because Dostum is looking at these men who have “killer eyes” and Nelson has never done this before. Dostum only has six extra horses for Nelson’s team so, uncomfortably, they split up.

Over the course of the journey, they take city after city. Most of Dostum’s men are injured or killed. He explains to Mitch that he does not force them to fight, he does not have a chain of command because God is the One, and that Mitch needs to stop thinking like a soldier and more like a warrior. Dostum lost his family to Mullah Razzan (Numan Acar), the leader of the Taliban. He is utterly displeased when he finds out that a mother had been teaching her children and exclaims that Allah does not want [female] children under eight to learn.

As Mitch told Mulholland, it would only take a few weeks to get this job done because of the harsh winter, Mulholland was getting eager so he sends another team with a different Northern Alliance warlord that is Dostum’s rival. Mitch had to tell him which led to Dostum’s retreat and anger. Mitch told the rest of the men that they needed to keep going since they were so close to ending Razzan. They split up again with a team covering the North, South, and rabbit hole. The Talibans are surrounded with no way to escape. Air strikes take out the tanks with a beautiful explosion, but that does not take out the large militia, considering this Special Forces team had 12 members.

The team is under heavy fire with rockets blowing rocks left and right. Close calls are made, bodies are flying, horses are on their backs, a lot are dead. This is first battle won in a war that took several years too long to end.

Ratings

8.5/10.0, A

Thoughts

This makes my top 10 list of war movies, maybe top 5. This is a story that I never knew about which is fine considering it was classified and has recent memorials set up in the 911 Twin Tower site. I loved the cast and how they acted toward the horses when they were riding them. Seeing Michael Peña wield a gun was also a weird site to see. He is someone I never would have thought to see hold a gun. I don’t follow him on social media or anything so this is solely based off looks. Overall I thought it was a great movie. There were not a lot of highs and lows in the movie, but it is not all shoot-shoot-shoot-explode-shoot. There is real stuff in this. Everyone loses something in war. Does not matter which side you fight on.

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