Releasing on blu-ray and DVD today from Warner Brothers is the film adaptation of the true story as retold in the novel Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton. The day after 11 September, 2001, a group of soldiers volunteered to be the first on the ground in Afghanistan.
The film tells that story, and of the mission they undertook. Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon and Micheal Pena head the cast in this glossy, loose retelling of an actual event. It’s given the Jerry Bruckheimer touch, as he serves as producer on the film.
Hemsworth is Captain Mitch Nelson, with Shannon as his Warrant Officer, Hal Spencer. The pair are given a mission, known as Task Force Dagger, to work with a warlord, General Dostum (Navid Negahban) and his militia to infiltrate Afghanistan, and target airstrikes on a Taliban stronghold, while advancing across the country.
The film is solidly made, but lacks the dynamic editing that would make the action sequences truly shine. Nicolai Fugslig’s directorial style doesn’t have the technical and frenetic flair and punch that a director like Scott brought to Black Hawk Down, but the actual content of the story does need to be shared. With gorgeous location shooting in New Mexico, standing in for Afghanistan, the film has a solid, if not as gritty as it should be, look at the first rounds of American combat following 9/11.
While solidly cast, and solid production value, the film lacks a visceral feel that is needed when putting audiences into an actual war-zone experience. Instead the combat sequences feel like would-be dramatic and big action moments, and that doesn’t do the men or the moments all the honour they deserve.
Hemsworth, Shannon and Pena settle easily into their roles, bringing actual fighting men to life and it is something to see, a fictionalised account of America’s First Response, even if it could have been brought together a little stronger.
The extras include a pair of featurettes, including one following the creation of the monument that was created to commemorate the event, known as America’s Response Monument. It’s a look at the craftmanship that went into the creating of and instalment of the now iconic statue.
There is also a fairly lengthy look at the making of the film, a twenty minute production that covers the film, as well as the soldiers that Hemsworth and his co-stars portray on-screen.
12 Strong definitely conjures interest in the actual event and historical, war, and action buffs will no doubt find this one fairly solid entertainment, and perhaps strive to learn more about the actual incident.
12 Strong comes home on DVD and blu-ray today. Check it out.