Skip to comments.'12 Strong' Review: Drama Sheds Light on American Heroes
Posted on 01/27/2018 7:13:54 AM PST by Kaslin
The new war drama 12 Strong begins with a news clip about the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. It then flashes to clips featuring the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
The feature then flashes to a house where young father Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) is introduced at home with his wife and child. Nelson is a veteran who has finally returned home to the desk job he requested.
Then, September 11th happens.
Like so many others, Nelson recommits that day to facing down the enemy that made such an attack possible. Under the command of Max Bowers (played by real-life veteran Rob Riggle), Nelson leads his team into Afghanistan in the days following the attacks. His task is a complicated one. His mission is to ally himself with General Dostum (Navid Negahban), a quietly intense warlord who had been fighting in his country for years.
When Nelson and his team first meet Dostum, they dont know if the general plans to work alongside them or sell them to the Taliban. Theres a murkiness to his intentions that is present throughout the film. A murkiness that reflects the general's shifting alliances.
In an early mission with Nelson, the general tells the Americans to target a specific Taliban camp with aerial bombs. The soldiers dont know if hes telling the truth or simply using their advanced weaponry to take out one of Dostums political rivals. The soldiers were driven to Afghanistan because of their patriotism but they are overwhelmed by the complexities of that country's political divisions.
Thats one of the elements that the screenplay by Ted Tally and Peter Craig often focuses on. Theres a chaos in war and plans consistently change in the field. In some wars, the enemy is easier to identify. In Afghanistan, that doesnt apply. One-time allies can become your enemies and your greatest opponent can become a friend.
In one of the latter scenes, Nelson encourages Dostum by telling him that he made the right choice about a specific mission. Dostum replies, There are no right choices here. This is Afghanistan.
With a running time of two hours and ten minutes, 12 Strong does feel a bit long. However, the films overall story about Nelsons team of twelve soldiers riding on horseback into an alliance with Dostum is a strong one. Because the specifics of this mission were classified, the brave soldiers never received the acclaim they shouldve received for their surgical precision in taking on such a mission.
This film does them justice by showing the sacrifices they had to make in order to serve (several early sequences show the soldiers saying goodbye to their loved ones) and the work they did in retaking several cities from the Taliban.
Chris Hemsworth does an admirable job in the lead role (although its hard not to notice his native accent creeping in every once in a while) but the supporting cast stands out, especially Negahban. The actors weariness comes through as he voices the pain of a man who has spent much of his life in battle and knows that it might never end.
12 Strong applauds its heroes but also reveals some of the complications of waging war in Afghanistan and that's what makes it stand out.
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Thanks for this review. 12 Strong is in my Netflix queue.
Thanks for posting.
Sounds like a solid movie. Don’t know if Amazon will offer it on Prime, so, I will just have to wait for the dvd to come out since I doubt the German kino will offer such a film.
Saw last week...loved it.
Amazon will probably offer it eventually. Who knows about the German movie theaters, but definitely under a different title. Perhaps “Zwölf Helden” or something like that?
“Nearly 45 f-words and about 25 s-words. Other profanities include ‘a—,’ ‘d—n,’ ‘h-—’ and ‘p-ss.’ God’s name is misused more than 15 times, most with the word “d—n” connected. Jesus’ name is abused 10 times.”
This is why I rarely go to the theaters. Even the “good” movies contain the Hollywood-obligatory blasphemies. At least Mel Gibson toned down some of this content for the video-release of Hacksaw Ridge.
Watching stuff produced by Hollywood these days is like eating a gourmet meal retrieved from a filthy dumpster. It’s quality, well-made stuff that’s been contaminated and ruined. Unfit for human consumption.
All in all, it is worth the admission price.
In the army, you could hear that on any given day before being called to attention at morning formation.
Having served 20 years in Special Forces I’d say they did tone the language down some.
But it’s Hollywood and they had a SEAL as the technical advisor even though the Team members offered their help.
This story is a good read before anybody goes to see the movie. Has some pictures also.
Yep. It does sound a bit subdued for high stress situations.
Thank you, Sir.
“In the army, you could hear that on any given day before being called to attention at morning formation.”
Some treat f-and s-words as just casual talk. Many are unaware they are even using them.
And while heavy profanity is a little problematic, the casual treatment of blasphemy is more serious, from a Biblical perspective. One of the ten commandments is “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
There have been many great war movies that avoided the use of this kind language.
Thanks for the link and a very sincere thank you for your service.
Profanity is so constant in the military it ceases to have any meaning, or impact. Any movie claiming to be "realistic" would have to include a certain level of profanity, but I'm not sure why language would be particularly upsetting, when you consider what people do to each other in war.
“Haven’t been around soldiers much have you?”
Took a relative with me to some gun and security training a couple of years ago. Some of the recent ex-military participants used such words as punctuation. They really didn’t mean anything by it. It only bothered me a little bit, but the relative was more disturbed, especially when his wife came by for lunch.
There are a couple of other issues here. The Plugged In service I mentioned is for Christians who want to be fully informed before deciding what movies to patronize. Different folks have different standards.
Personally, I don’t care if a film has a handful of milder profanities. There are certainly ones I don’t care to listen to at all. But there is also a difference between profanity and blasphemy. And there are different degrees there also. For example, there is a difference between OMG, which might even be considered a prayer in some cases, versus combining God’s title or Jesus’ name with a curse word.
It may be realistic, but that does not mean it is necessary for a good narrative. Soldiers also have to defecate. But realism does not require a camera to record the details of what comes out of their anus.
As I said earlier, many great war films have been made with little or no profanity.
“Getting shot at changes your world view.”
Yes, it does. I’ve never been shot at, but I have had guns drawn on me a few times. In those situations I think a person ought to be all that more respectful to God. Blasphemy is never a good thing, but more so when it is someone’s last words. Not a good way to meet your Maker. And calling out to God in such situations has resulted in many miraculous rescues.
And I’m not meaning to try and dictate what movies others support or don’t support by pointing out how Hollywood films contain lots of problematic content. In fact, even if Hollywood produced a lot of clean, wholesome, family films (Disney perhaps), there is a strong case for boycotting based on how Hollywood uses its riches. Hollywood blacklists conservatives for the most part. There might be a token one here or there who is tolerated, but the industry is pretty much run by fanatical liberals. So the point of my post is to be informative.
For those who want to watch movies edited for whatever content they find objectionable, VidAngel provides such a service and works with major video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu I think.
“I’m not sure why language would be particularly upsetting, when you consider what people do to each other in war.”
I should have pinged you in my post #16.
I’ll just add that there are certain story elements that are depictions, and certain that are reenactments. By that I mean that the violence is simulated. However, when movies blaspheme God’s name, it is actually blasphemy. Movies can also inform an audience of an event without depicting it.
For example, in Treasures of the Sierra Madre, Bogart’s character goes in to a prostitute (apparently). What is shown is basically him walking with a woman through a door and then out the same door a little later. Tells the audience what information is needed for the story without making the audience voyeurs to a sexual encounter.
As I mentioned earlier, Mel Gibson toned down the language a bit in Hacksaw Ridge in order to please his largely Christian and Catholic fan base. That movie is a well-made war film with an inspirational theme. Has a lot of extreme violence. Is peppered with milder profanities. But the video version cut the f-bombs and some of the other more extreme language. Didn’t hurt the story a bit, and probably grew the audience.
We vote with our pocketbook.
Fair enough. Most former military self edit when civilians are around. Sadly there are a few that don’t.
The narrator of the story is played by Sam Elliott, who appears on screen, sitting at the bar in a bowling alley, next to the protagonist in the movie, The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges.
He asks The Dude, "Do you have to use so many cuss words?"
To which The Dude responds, "What the f*ck are you talking about?"
Nothing worse than somebody telling everybody else how they should act or speak.
I was in the military, not Special Ops, but I've heard much worse language coming from a commanding general in a briefing with other officers.
I don't pass judgement on people's speech when they put their lives on the line to defend our country's freedoms.
Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. It's not freedom of just certain speech but of all speech.
BTW, "The Treasure of The Sierra Madre" was released in 1948, the year I was born. Culture has changed quite a bit in the last 70 years.
“Nothing worse than somebody telling everybody else how they should act or speak.”
Then stop doing it.
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