Usually, war in film goes one of two ways.
Some films stay true to history, build characters effectively in order to show horrors of war. Then there are some that scale up the terror, forcing an empathetic response.
12 Strong is a mix of both.
Days after 9/11, a response unit of 12 men led by Mark Nutsch (renamed Mitch Nelson in the film for reasons unknown), are picked to team up with a Northern Territory ally in order to curtail any Taliban growth across major Cities in Afghanistan.
Peppered with moments of moral dilemma (Is war making them inhuman? Are they doing the right thing?) the outrageous mission puts 12 men and 500 allies against around 50,000 Taliban. And for the most part, these moments of contemplation almost hit home if only to be curtailed by a Hoorah! moment as a man nearly shows emotion.
I’ve huge respect for the military. I could never do it. And to go into war with 50,000 behind me, I’d still be that guy who stabs himself in the leg in Platoon. So, the more this film roles on – feeling like a caricature of insane, unrealistic action – I admit, I was sceptical.
It plays out like a Call of Duty mission with cheat codes, but according to the 12 horsemen, it captures the insanity, emotion and sheer luck of their mission experience. And for that, I have no words. No amount of training would have ever prepared anyone for that mess.
12 Strong attempts emotion but doesn’t quite manage it, although the action doesn’t hold back and you’re left hoping they get through it. The intentions are honourable, but no matter how true I’m told it is, it just seems too crazy.
Plus, no matter how many times the guys think they’ve beaten the Taliban, we carry on watching, begrudgingly knowing that they weren’t even close. I’ll give it 3 flicks.
The shock? Michael Shannon not being classic Michael Shannon for a film – and me missing him a little bit.
The let down? Hemsworth desk kick.
Audience rating? Person on my aisle chose to wait until after the loud explosions to open the cans of fizzy drinks for their family of five.