January is a month in which not a lot of great films get released. It really is a stereotype that lives up to itself within the movie industry, but sometimes we get a diamond in the rough. When seeing the premise and talented cast involved in 12 Strong, I was undeniably excited to see the finished product. Not only does it boast a great cast and a great premise, it’s also produced by the same people who were involved with ‘Black Hawk Down.’ How does the film stack up then? Well, it’s a pretty decent January release.

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12 Strong is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when an elite U.S. Special Forces unit, led by their Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. soldiers sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission in response to the attacks. Leaving their families behind, the team is dropped into the remote, rugged landscape of northern Afghanistan, where they must convince General Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies.

Let’s start with the positive things the film has, one being the story behind it. The story lends itself greatly to the big screen, keeping me as a viewer intrigued as to what will happen throughout the film every time. I’m a sucker for a great true story, and this was no exception to that. Another thing the film executes really well is the action, from missile strikes to intense shootouts, it isn’t mindless action for the sake of having action scenes in the film. I have to give credit where credit is due to director Nicolai Fuglsig, the action scenes are directed really well and are great to watch. Those are pretty much the only things I can truly praise about the film since the rest is just pretty average, the film’s major flaws come in the way of its character development and pacing, really taking the whole film down a notch.

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The characters in the film are not interesting themselves nor well developed, if something were to happen to said characters then you really wouldn’t care for what actually happened. Some films can get away with this, but for a film like this based on a true story and focusing on soldiers, this is an essential part that has to be conquered. The only reason you care about these people is that of the actors playing them. If Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, or Michael Peña weren’t playing these soldiers, then I wouldn’t have cared just the slightest for their characters. An example of a film similar to this that executes the aspect of character development really well is 13 Hours, as I found myself caring for those characters a lot because they were very well developed, leading to a big emotional payoff at the end of the film.

12 Strong is a solid film people should watch because the story of the Horse Soldiers deserves to be known and lauded, but a real lack of character development really halts the film in taking the next step in becoming something greater than average. The film is entertaining and offers a really interesting story about the first U.S soldiers sent into Afghanistan and how they really defied the odds against them. I really can’t stress enough how great this story is and how you should definitely watch the film solely on that while enjoying every other thing it offers as well.

GRADE: 7/10

12 Strong is in theaters on January 19th, 2018.

12 Strong is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when an elite U.S. Special Forces unit, led by their Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. soldiers sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission in response to the attacks. Leaving their families behind, the team is dropped into the remote, rugged landscape of northern Afghanistan, where they must convince General Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. 

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