12 Strong is the newest film to center on Afghanistan and how great the US military is and it’s a bit better than most of its counterparts but not by much. The new film, directed by Nicolai Fugslig and starring Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, and Trevante Rhodes (!!!!!!), follows the first team to go into Afghanistan in an attempt to take back a city that served as a Taliban stronghold. The problems with this film start out pretty early on as generic newsreels try to impress the importance of what 9/11 meant to America (NOBODY KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED!) which are then followed by pretty muted reactions from all the team members who we will soon follow into battle. Not only is it generic it’s also just poorly written, especially the dialogue, and attempts to add some character to invest you in the cacophony of gunfire that will soon follow. But that effort is ultimately inconsequential as all the attempts at character come up short (with the caveat of one relationship between Trevante Rhodes’ character and a young Afghan child that is criminally underserved by this film) and just gives way to the action that populates much of the film's runtime. In regards to the action, it lacks much of the visceral intensity that is a hallmark of great war films but most of all it has no geography and this is a film that is centered around where people are. We should be able to know who is where and what is coming from where but with the exception of the final fight that isn’t the case. Ultimately this is just another generic war film that banks on the “Based on a True Story” nature of its premise rather than seeking to find an interesting and engaging way to tell this story. The film also has this weird sense of victory at the end of the film that completely neglects the reality of the war these men fought that cheapens the rest of the movie.
Al Pacino Rating: