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12 Strong: My Movie Review

12 Strong is a 2018 American film categorized into war drama which is also known by alternative title 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers. The film is written by Ted Tally and Peter Craig and directed by Danish film director Nicolai Fuglsig.

The movie has a film production budget of $35 million and has grossed $62.9 million worldwide. The film was released on January 19, 2018 in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures, and shown in standard and IMAX theaters. 

The film is based on a non-fiction book by Doug Stanton entitled “Horse Soldiers”. It tells the story of US Special Forces as well as CIA paramilitary officers, who in addition to USAF Combat Controllers, were sent to Afghanistan after the infamous September 11 attacks. Principal photography took place in New Mexico on January 2017.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!!!

The movie was cast by 10-time award-winning Australian actor Chris Hemsworth (Thor of Thor and Avengers/ The Huntsman aka Eric of Snow White and the Huntsman/ Owen Chase of In The Heart of the Sea/ George Kirk of Star Trek/ Curt of The Cabin in the Woods/ James Hunt of Rush) played his lead role as Captain Mich Nelson, a team commander inspired by Mark Nutsch. Oscar nominee and 34-time award-winning American actor Michael Shannon (Richard Strickland of The Shape of Water/ Curtis of Take Shelter/ John Givings of Revolutionary Road/ Gary Noesner of Waco/ George Westinghouse of The Current War/ Maynar Greiger of Pottersville/ Zod of Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice/ Nelson van Alden & George Mueller of Boardwalk Empire/ Doc Cross Williams of Jonah Hex/ Greg Buehl of 8 Mile/ Aaron of Vanilla Sky/ Lt. Gooz Wood of Pearl Harbor) played his role as a Chief Warrant Officer 5 and assistant team leader named Hal Spencer, inspired by Bob Pennington.

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Thirteen-time award-winning American actor Michael Peña (Red of A Wrinkle in Time/ Ponch of Chips/ Kai of The Lego Ninjago Movie/ Simon of Collateral Beauty/ Bob Bolaño of War on Everyone/ Luis of Ant-Man/ Rick Martinez of The Martian/ Ricky of Chozen/ Trini Garcia of Fury/ Mark Solano of Gracepoint/ Paco Hernandez of American Hustle/ Garcia of Buffalo Soldiers) played the role of team intelligence sergeant named Sergeant First Class Sam Diller.

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Award-winning Iranian actor who is also sometimes called “The Man of Thousand Faces” Navid Negahban (Murad of Brothers/ Refugee Camp Translator of Charlie Wilson’s War/ Omar of Lost/ Imam Ibrahim of Law & Order/ Hassan Nadir of Criminal Minds/ Foreman of Alias/ Djinn of Djinn/ Jamot & Abdullah of 24/ Al Ow-Al of Arrow/ Hassan Zarif of The Mentalist/ Mac of Valiant/ Ali Hassan of Person of Interest/ Prime Minister of The Messengers/ Itzhak of Baba Joon/ Jonathan Amadi of Mistresses/ Said of The Team/ Amahl Farouk of Legion) played his role as General Dostum, the leader of the Alliance who later Vice-President of Afghanistan.

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Seven-time award-winning American actor and former track and field sprinter Trevante Rhodes (Black of Moonlight/ Bachelor of Westworld/ Williams of The Predator/ Ramsey Walters of If Loving You Is Wrong) played his role as Ben Milo, one of the members of Mitch’s team and a first class sergeant. Iranian young actor Arshia Mandavi played his role as Najeeb, a young boy soldier of Dostum who is close to Ben Milo. 

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Award-winning Spanish actress Elsa Pataky (Elena of Fast & Furious/ Maria of Snakes on a Plane/ Adrielle Cuthbert of Tidelands/ Maddie of Ozzy/ Vera Hidalgo of Queen of Swords) played her role as Mitch’s wife named Jean Nelson.

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The film received mixed reviews from critics, which at the same time praised the cast and action yet criticized the by-the-numbers execution and lacking of hindsight of the War in Afghanistan.

According to a review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film got an approval rating of 54% based on 140 reviews and an average rating of 5.6/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, 

“12 Strong has a solid cast, honorable intentions, and a thrilling, fact-based story — all of which are occasionally enough to balance a disappointing lack of depth or nuance.”

On Metacritic, the movie got a weighted average score of 54/100, based from 43 critic reviews, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. CinemaScore, otherwise gave the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale based on audiences’ poll. PostTrak reported filmgoers gave an 81% overall positive score on the other hand and a 63% “definite recommend”. IMDb, the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content, gave 6.7/10 for 12 Strong.

Though some may negatively criticized the film as not as good as it is, nevertheless The Smoke Room’s David Hookstead gave this film a 7.5/10 and wrote, 

“The cinematography is nothing short of incredible. The action scenes are shot in a way that makes you feel like you’re right there in them. The crack of the rifles and the explosions feel incredibly close and real for the audience. The camera shots of the helicopters dropping in the 12 soldiers and picking them up on their way out are both awesome.”

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In my own personal points of view, insight and review, this movie brings strong message that teamwork and trust really work out for triumph in war times like what was happening in Afghanistan years ago. This film also brings inspiration among soldiers as well as movie-watchers that anything can happen if hope and camaraderie will prevail for an important mission that needs to be envisioned. What makes this movie unique is that the 12 chosen American soldiers here were only armed with prowess, enthusiasm, and zeal, aside from their relying armed weapons and horses that they rode on that made them famous by the sobriquet “horse soldiers”. 

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One of the best action films I’ve ever watched this year, but advised not to let kids watch this one since it has graphic violence, gore, and war influence. A very strong parental guidance is highly recommended. An action film based on a true story should never miss to be watched especially for those who advocates for patriotism. A twisted story of how Americans allied with Dostum who later became Afghanistan’s vice president and eliminating the notorious rebel group Taliban who took over Afghanistan for some few years, yet failed against the forces and special tactics aided by the horse soldiers known collectively as 12 Strong.If I were to give my own personal star rating, I will absolutely give my 7.4 out of 10 for this film. Truly compelling and scenes are really convincing especially the sites they took the film shooting. One of the must watched war and action films this year.

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 If you haven’t watched this film yet, try to check out its trailer below:

Video source: YouTube

Featured Image: source


What do you think?

Written by Trafalgar Law