'12 Strong' Review: Winning the Battles but Losing the War


But as the War in Afghanistan drags into its 16th year with no end in sight or even parameters for victory, 12 Strong comes off blissfully unaware of how its heroic victories now seem like pyrrhic ones.

12 Strong is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely unsafe mission. After the A-list couple starred in a movie together for the first time - which is titled 12 Strong - Elsa was ready to spill some secrets about their on-screen chemistry.

Just weeks after the attacks on America, a handful of Special Forces troops were sent to make contact with an Afghani warlord and assist the Northern Alliance in retaking the Taliban stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Working from a screenplay by Ted Tally ("The Silence of the Lambs") and Peter Craig ("The Town"), director Nicolai Fuglsig delivers an action drama that gets the job done without ever catching fire.

"12 Strong" is based on the true story of 12 special force operatives who took on the risky task of fighting alongside Afghan warlords to take down the Taliban in the wake of 9/11. In other words, thankfully that dynamic between Mitch and Dostum does exist to separate 12 Strong from the pack of Afghanistan war movies that add nothing new to the discussion. And that means returning to his role as captain in the Special Forces.

In the case of 12 Strong, we get Mitch Nelson, and Hemsworth is...fine. His co-stars suffer a similar fate despite including great actors like Shannon, Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes, and William Fichtner.

Instead, it's just another rote war movie that would rather be an action film rather than consider the weight of war, whether it's this conflict or any conflict. But the well-chosen, charismatic cast makes the most out of the material. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans-accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare-must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers.