Riveting! Captivating! Enthralling! Ordinarily, action war films are not my choice of entertainment, however 12 STRONG is everything it’s said to be, and more. Edge-of-your-seat, high octane, face-to-face warfare and a glimpse into the humanity of the very real men who thrive on these kinds of death-defying combat situations. 12 STRONG (The declassified true story of the HORSE SOLDIERS) is about “Task Force Dagger” the first team of CIA paramilitary officers to be deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11.
Led by Captain Mitch Nelson (inspired by the real Captain Mark Nutsch), the 12-member team is on a mission to destroy the Taliban and Al Qaida forces that have taken over the country. But first, they must align themselves with General Rashid Dostum, an Afghan warlord and member of the Northern Alliance. General Dostum knows how to navigate the mountainous terrains, as well as the culture of the opposing Muslim sects that are also at war with one another.
On horseback – the only way to get around the harsh Afghan landscape – General Dostum guides the soldiers into the Al Qaida and Taliban strong-holds. With U.S. bomber planes overhead and the Team on the ground, with help from General Dostum’s small army, the adrenaline-pumping fight with a ruthless enemy, begins!
But there’s more to this movie than bloodshed and action. With subtlety, it shows the visceral camaraderie of the men when off the battlegrounds; it humanizes the American operatives as they adjust to extreme and primitive surroundings (some of the men never rode a horse before); It shows how strongly they depend on one another and trust each other’s skills and abilities while in combat mode – especially during a fearless battle that is choreographed and perfectly timed as beautifully as a synchronized ballet.
So, with no disclaimers, I’m very glad I stepped out of my movie comfort zone. 12 STRONG is exciting, inspiring, and even educational. I applaud the real heroes who were so engagingly portrayed by an extraordinary group of talented actors.
Based on: Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton
Screenplay: Peter Craig, Ted Tally
Chris Hemsworth as Captain Mitch Nelson, inspired by Mark Nutsch
Michael Shannon as Chief Warrant Officer Cal Spencer
Michael Pena as Sergeant First Class Sam Diller
Ben O’Toole as Scott Black
Trevante Rhodes as Sergeant First Class Ben Milo,
William Fichtner as Colonel John Mulholland, one of two U.S. Army officers
Rob Riggle as Colonel Max Bowers, one of two U.S. Army officers
Austin Hébert as SFC Pat Essex
Austin Stowell as Staff Sergeant Fred Falls
*Navid Negahban as General Abdul Rashid Dostum the leader of the Alliance and is now Vice President of Afghanistan
Laith Nakli as one of the soldiers of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance
Yousuf Azami, as one of the soldiers of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance
Said Taghmaoui as a Taliban military leader
Fahim Fazli as Commander Khaled, one of the soldiers of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance
Peter Malek as Habib
Allison King as Marsha Spencer
Elsa Pataky as Mitch’s wife
Lauren Myers as Lisa Diller, Sam’s wife