12 Strong is based on an amazing true story. New captain, Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth), is assigned to the first Special Forces team to be sent to Afghanistan following the horror of 9/11. Nelson had previously led several trainees, and now they follow him into the nightmare of war. Nelson must work with an Afghan warlord, General Dostum (Navid Negahban), to try to stop the Taliban from moving forward—which could result in more casualties on American shores.
The strain of leaving their families is believably portrayed by the actors as soldiers who believe in what they’re doing yet realizing the stress and loneliness their families will endure while they are away. The movie does a good job in playing out the nuances of war. For example, General Dostum tests Nelson a bit, Nelson being the “new kid on the block.” He has to speak up on more than one occasion and disagree with some of Dostum’s strategies, and the new captain has no problem doing so. And although the men have to fight with the idea of killing and taking out the enemy, Nelson is determined to protect his men. He says to his commander before leaving for Afghanistan, “We are all coming back.” The brotherhood of the soldiers is clearly seen, as they bond and follow their leader.
The battle scenes are realistic, with a spray of blood as characters are hit with bullets, and with fiery explosions ripping apart tanks and land. Bombs are dropped from the air and the stench of war can almost be smelled as the visuals don’t cover it up or make it look pretty. The amazing outcome is, again, based on true events, and these 12 men accomplish a great feat in three weeks, when it could have taken up to two years. Due to the constant use of strong and foul language, and the realistic violent images that are portrayed, we are prevented from presenting the movie our Dove Family Approved Seal. However, in displaying the heroics of a dozen American men, this movie gets it right. Today a statue of a horseman honors the 12 men at the site of the former World Trade Center.