12 Strong

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Chris Hemsworth is showing the world that he is more than just Thor.

Hemsworth is the lead character in the new war film, 12 Strong, which tells the just recently declassified story of the Horse Soldiers, a group of 12 men who went to Afghanistan after September 11th to fight against the Taliban.

The members of the Dagger Squad was sent to Afghanistan to aid a local warlord in their attempts to retake the country from the Taliban and isolate them from Al Qaeda.  When the Dagger Squad arrived, they realized that they would be taking on the well-armed Taliban army by riding horses into battle.

I had never heard about this story before so I came into the film without any preconceived expectations.  I think that having no idea about this helped make the film stronger.  The battle scenes are extremely dramatic and felt truly real, and the fact that these soldier approached it on horseback with their automatic weapons fighting against tanks and missile launchers was truly amazing.

Now, honestly, a lot of the characters in this film are lacking.  If you are looking at it in a strictly movie stand point, only a few of them have anything more than just surface level development.  Yet, that is not a huge drawback for this film because of the way it is shot and the seriousness of the situation.

Joining Hemsworth, who plays Captain Mitch Nelson, in this film are Michael Shannon as Hal Spencer, the older veteran who believes in Mitch, and Michael Pena as Sam Diller, who starts with some distaste for Mitch.  The strongest relationship in the film may be between Hemsworth and Navid Negahban who plays General Dostum, one of the Afghan military warlords willing to aid the US.

The true story is amazing considering the odds that these soldiers faced in their attempt to bring to justice those men responsible for the 9-11 attacks.  There are some scenes here where you wonder exactly how it is possible that these men are able to escape death, let alone continue their mission.

Hemsworth is truly a star.  He has shown us the ability to be larger-than-life.  He has shown us that he has comedy chops.  Now, he has shown us that he can carry a dramatic role as well.  A role that forces him to get down and dirty and reach an area that he has yet to go.  He has a presence on the screen like few others (actually reminds me a bit of Dwayne Johnson.  I’d love to see those two together in a movie).

12 Strong might be a bit long, but it did not feel that way.  It is a realistic and powerful war movie that could have used a little more character development, but succeeds nonetheless.

3.5 stars

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