12 Strong

An ordinary film about extraordinary soldiers

This is the true story of the first U.S. Special Forces unit deployed to Afghanistan (“the graveyard of empires”) after 9/11. Once in-country, they must team up with a cynical warlord (Navid Negahban, the film’s best feature), travel on horseback (thus their being dubbed the “horse soldiers”), and deal with the harsh climate and Chris Hemsworth’s acting. Also appearing are Michael Shannon, criminally wasted, and Michael Pena.

It’s a good war story told in an old fashioned way, with good production values and well executed if slightly repetitive battle sequences. But it’s overlong, politically simplistic and, while competent, somehow never really takes off.

At the end of the day, this tale of real heroism may have been more effective if the subject war were not still dragging on 17 years later.  (130 min)