12 Strong – Movie Review – Solid action, with an inconsistent pace.

12 Strong is based on true events and tells the story of the first Special Forces Team that were deployed to Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. Under the leadership of their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) they must work with General Dostum (Navid Negahban), an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban.

The script for this film is a bit of a mixed bag, It’s a clear dramatised depiction of these true events. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but a handful of moments stood out to me as feeling like they were fiction more than factual. The script features a few genre cliches as well, which also added to the feeling of the film blending fact with fiction in equal measure. The film does open strongly, it had my full attention from the beginning and it was starting to build momentum. The problem is, that momentum is lost shortly after the first thirty minutes because the story takes too long to properly get going. The pace certainly dips around that same point of the narrative, overall film is just too long. If the scenes at the end of the first act, that led into the second were trimmed down by ten to fifteen minutes, then the story wouldn’t have lost that momentum and the pace would’ve been maintained or even improved.

Chris Hemsworth is a strong lead, he conveys the determination of Captain Mitch Nelson, as well as the brotherly bond with his Special Forces Team. Chris wouldn’t have been my immediate choice for this role, but he proves himself to be a great casting choice. The entire main cast were likeable in their roles, it is a shame though, because I do believe Michael Shannon and Trevante Rhodes were underused. They did a good job with the material they were given, Michael’s Hal Spencer is a man who has essentially lost the affection of his family, due to constantly being away from them with his team. The script does highlight the slight strain this has on him emotionally, but there was the potential to utilise that aspect of his character even more. Trevante really didn’t a get whole lot to do outside of the action sequences, and I would’ve liked to see him get more screen time and dramatic material to work with.

Navid Negahban stood out to me as General Dostum, and it’s his relationship with Chris Hemsworth’s Mitch Nelson that drives a lot of the drama, during the moments of downtime throughout the film. They have a strange comradery, they are often at odds with each other whilst still wanting to reach the same end goal. How their relationship alters as the story moves forward kept me invested in the story and the outcome of it. Another performance that could’ve done with a little more attention is that of Numan Acar who portrays Razzan, who is the leader of the Taliban. We only get one small scene to see how he operates and influences his soldiers. It would’ve been interesting if that was explored more. I understand that the film isn’t supposed to be told from his perspective but it just results in the film having a weak adversary.

First time director Nicolai Fuglsig impressed me in a number of ways, mainly with how strong he handled the action sequences. The director of photography Rasmus Videbæk deserves praise as well due to the effective use of wide angles that he utilised, to clearly showcases the battlefield and the geography of each action set piece. Every set piece is easy to follow which is commendable nowadays because so many films contain action that is hard to to follow, but with this film I had no issue seeing what was occurring during the action scenes.

Overall 12 Strong is a good film that features some layered performances from Chris Hemsworth and Navid Negahban. The action is helmed impressively but the film is just mainly let down by a handful of cliches and an inconsistent pace.


(3 Stars Out of 5)


– 12 Strong – Starring Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban and Trevante Rhodes.

-Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig.

-Now showing in U.K. Cinemas.

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