12 Strong

By Jackie Raphael

3.5 stars

True stories often make for the best film plots and frequently the most unbelievable. 12 Strong is certainly an exceptional true story, based on a book that shares the real tale of American soldiers riding on horses in Afghanistan to fight immediately after the September 11 attacks. The cast is led by Chris Hemsworth as Captain Mitch Nelson, who was well-suited to the role with his large stature and hyper-masculine identity. His wife in the film is played by his real-life wife, Elsa Pataky, who shone in her small role, providing a lot of heart. In contrast, Hemsworth played down the emotional scenes, possibly to match the character of a rough military man. The cast also included Michael Shannon, Michael Pena and Geoff Stults, who provided some much-needed laughs. While the film is obviously quite serious, there is a subtle use of humour throughout, which was reflective of real-life conversations.

A dramatic office outburst scene was a bit cheesy towards the start of the film, but it picks up and keeps you engaged throughout. Unlike other war films, Nicolai Fuglsig directed the scenes to develop each character and clearly show who was fighting whom. While it certainly could have been edited down a bit, it is great to have a film like this made to celebrate real-life heroes.