KYLE Says 12 STRONG Is A Pleasant Delight

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FILM REVIEW: 12 STRONG

BY KYLE ARANGO

 

12 Strong is directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Elsa Pataky, Trevante Rhodes, Navid Negahban, William Fichtner, Taylor Sheridan, and Rob Riggle. It tells the story of the first special forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11, referred to as “The Horse Soldiers”. With a new leader, the team must work with an Afghan warlord in order to take down the Taliban. This fairly new director came together with an impressive cast, could it turn into something special? The answer is surprisingly yes! I thoroughly enjoyed this movie to an extent I did not expect. There are many things to appreciate here.

To start off, 12 Strong is a story I did not know existed. The film even tells you at the end that this story is not well known at all. Thank God, we have a film about this group because it is a fascinating story. These 12 men came together after 9/11 to be the first force to take on the Taliban. What surprised me most about this film is director Nicolai Fuglsig. This is his first feature film and it is a great start to his career. It is always nice when a new director can have a good movie right off the bat. He is able to tell this story well without missing key points. The action sequences are intense, and the drama is gripping. The score by composer Lorne Balfe flows so well in all scenes and makes you feel the way the movie wants you to feel. When you’re on the edge of your seat, the music is right there with you. The music that goes along with the action is gripping and makes you drawn to the screen. You are rooting for these men to succeed. That is what you want in a war movie.

Another thing to love about this film, is its acting. There are many great performances across the board. Michael Shannon is just as great as he always is in everything he does. Michael Pena is the comedic relief here, but he is an earnest character who feels real. All the actors here portray these soldiers very well and act as if they are in this situation. The two stars here are Chris Hemsworth and Navid Negahban. Hemsworth is very impressive here as the leader of the group and carries this movie like he does in the Thor franchise. Here he proves that he is a leading man in stuff not just in the Marvel universe. His charm and charisma are more than enough to carry this film. Navid Negahban is also a huge surprise here. I have never heard of this guy, but he comes in here as the Afghan warlord and you are drawn to him every time he is on screen. He does such a good job of being a good guy, but you’re not very clear about his motives. The dynamic that Negahban has with Hemsworth is fantastic and all their scenes are so engaging. They have different viewpoints, but similar goals. The conflict that arises from this is fascinating as they both have solid arguments. The back and forth between them drives the story and you look forward to every time they come back together. This is, without a doubt, my favorite aspect of this film.

Now this film is a pleasant delight, but it is not without its problems. For starters, this film is way too long. The runtime here is 130 minutes which is way too long for this story. There are just unnecessary scenes here that can easily be cut. There is an amazing 100-minute film in here but there is so much filler, that it can start to feel its length. Something else here that is a problem is the lack of female talent here. The female characters are the weakest part of the film which is a shame. The reason is that the story is about the men and their journey, but the actresses playing the wives could’ve been used much better. Instead of filler scenes, show us the women at home being afraid that their husbands may not come home. They touch on this, but never use it to its full potential.

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At the end of it all, 12 Strong was a pleasant surprise that I did not see coming for a January movie. However, looking back, there have been some decent war movies released in January recently including 13 Hours and Lone Survivor. Put 12 Strong up on that list as well because it is on par with those films. While it is not a perfect movie, it is a rather enjoyable one where you are rooting for these soldiers the entire time, and care if they accomplish their mission. This is a story I never knew about, and I am happy I do now. I definitely recommend this movie as it is great for a January movie.

 

FINAL WORD:  

  • Larry Hughes

    Great review Kyle. Keep them coming. Can’the wait to see 12 STRONG.