Blu-Ray Review – 12 Strong

This is a rather stupid action/war movie about a special forces team that goes into Afghanistan on horseback. It’s based on a true story about a group of CIA paramilitary / special forces guys who enter the country right after 9/11 to kick some Taliban ass—and they actually do (although of course they didn’t get Bin Laden).

It’s a film that clearly wants to be Black Hawk Down, but it just doesn’t have enough weight to it. It comes off as a lazy entrant in the roll of films about 9/11 and Afganistan, a genre that is pretty full.

It stars Michael Shannon and Chris Hemsworth, but their characters don’t have much of an arc, so it’s hard to get interested in or care about them—especially given how many recent films have covered similar ground. The script has that “written by committee” feel. Even though Shannon is one of the best actors of his generation and can usually make anything watchable, he is definitely somewhat wasted here.

It was made by a first-time director, Nicolai Fuglsig, who somehow got into business with Jerry Bruckheimer. The fact that Bruckheimer is producing lets you know that it’s unlikely to be very subtle (although he did also produce the far better Black Hawk Down, saved by having a superior director in Ridley Scott). Not much is made of the horseback angle either, which could have given it something unique.

With a film like this, you need a really strong vision behind it, but without it,  it feels like a piss-poor Peter Berg movie. It doesn’t even really pass the test of being an entertaining time-waster.

There are also two featurettes included that run a bit over three minutes.

★★

Ian Schultz

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