12 Strong

Thor puts down his hammer, jumps on a horse, and wins a big battle, in fact, the first attack the U.S. made after 9/11. It was a rather interesting true story I knew nothing about.

The cast is pretty strong — Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, and Michael Pena; there’s also some powerful supporting work from the usually funny Rob Riggle, and character actor William Fichtner.

This is Danish filmmaker Nicolai Fuglsig’s feature debut, based on journalist Doug Stanton’s book Horse Soldiers. It’s the story of 12 US Special Forces soldiers that had to enter Afghanistan after al-Qaeda took down the World Trade Center.

Mitch (Hemsworth) has been promoted and now has a desk job. After seeing the 9/11 attacks on TV, he goes back to his base, and wants to get the band back together. His Special Forces team is already being given new duties, but with the help of Hal Spencer (Shannon), they’re soon flying into Afghanistan. He’s able to talk his way into his troop being the one to take on this risky endeavor.

They join up with some rebels, led by an Afghan general who is distrustful of these soldiers, and doesn’t think Mitch has “killer eyes.”

Despite having a number of rebel soldiers, they’re still badly outnumbered. They also need to go on horseback, and a few of the soldiers have never even ridden a horse before. It’s not just impressive that they have to fight battles on an animal they’ve never been on, but sometimes that involves going up against tanks and rocket launchers.

Cinematographer Rasmus Videbaek makes New Mexico feel like the Middle East, and the battle scenes he shoots are rather thrilling to watch.

One of the problems is that there have been so many war pictures, this all feels so familiar. Many of the characters and scenarios are cliched. And just as I felt Dunkirk didn’t show the enormity of the situation, this felt minor as well. Despite the fact that it was such a big deal that there’s now a soldier on a horse at the 9/11 site to commemorate their feat.

Fans of war films should see it, and it does have the vibe of an old school war film. I just thought, at 130 minutes, it dragged a bit.

2 ½ stars out of 5.