12 Strong (2018)
Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig
Based on the book Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton
Screenplay by Ted Tally, Peter Craig
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Navid Negahban, Rob Riggle
The true story of the first Special Forces team deployed in Afghanistan after 9/11.
This movie is based on an incredible true story, documented in the book Horse Soldiers written by Doug Stanton (In Harm’s Way). The screenplay was written by Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs) and Peter Craig (The Town), with Nicolai Fuglsig (Exfil) directing. The cast includes Chris Hemsworth (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), Michael Peña (The Martian), Navid Negahban (American Sniper), and Rob Riggle (22 Jump Street).
This is a fascinating true story that has remained largely untold prior to the 2009 publishing of Doug Stanton’s book Horse Soldiers. The book was adapted for this film by Ted Tally and Peter Craig. The story told in this film feels very routine and somewhat formulaic. The writing starts off with a predictable series of scenes that feel longer than necessary and slow down the pace of the film. Once the movie gets into the more interesting events the story does pick up the pace a bit. While the danger is clearly present, this film really fails to create real suspense. This is partially due to a lack of connection with the main characters and partly due to the lack of solid antagonists.
The dialogue is fine, and thankfully avoids any long speeches. Several of the characters seem slightly overlooked, which is unfortunate since the cast features some very talented people. The routine nature of this one takes away any suspense and makes this a predictable movie. While this is still a great story, the movie fails to stir up the emotions that might have made it great. Instead it’s an okay film with few surprises to offer.
The actors in this one did a nice job with the script. There are some very good moments from many of the central cast members. Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon really lead this one with solid performances. Hemsworth was clearly prepared for the physical aspects of the story. Thankfully, he also handled the emotional moments in the film as well. Michael Shannon brought another good performance to this one. Michael Peña also did nice work, although the script didn’t offer him enough moments to shine. Navid Negahban and Rob Riggle are just a couple more of the cast members who did nice work in this one. Despite the weaker script, the film doesn’t have any bad performances from the talented cast.
This movie has some incredible action sequences throughout the later moments of the film. Like 13 Hours or Lone Survivor the action feels real and adds some intensity to the movie. The visuals are strong, and the pace is good in the later parts of the movie. Early in the film the editing really bogs down the story and adds in some exposition that is entirely unnecessary. The film also leaves out some information that might have helped to build the suspense and raise the stakes early in this one. While the writing is weak, the rest of the movie is a bit better. The score by Lorne Balfe (13 Hours) also adds a lot to the experience.
This is an okay movie that won’t keep you guessing. Fans of Shannon and Hemsworth might want to check this one out. I would also suggest this to fans of war films. I give this one 2.9 out of 5 stars.