12 Strong achieved what some war movies just can’t. While it is true that combat makes for a great action movie, it seems that all too often the emotional appeal we are supposed to feel is either disregarded or shoved down our throats in order to check a box. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer blended the key elements necessary for an intriguing war movie and gave us 12 Strong.
The film is set in 2001, just after the horrific terrorist attack on Sept. 11. It tells the story of the 12 horse soldiers in Afghanistan, who were previously unknown due to their mission being classified, and their role in defeating Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Their heroic mission helped begin the war in retaliation for the attack on United States soil.
It follows their deployment to Afghanistan and their plan to link up with a warlord who is a part of the Northern Alliance, working against the Taliban. This comes with struggles from early on, and the residual tension between a shaky partnership between Americans and Afghans proves to be the root for seemingly countless harrowing events.
The movie also delves into a short but to the point “why we fight” narrative, à la Band of Brothers, although not as direct. Afghan villages are shown and the suffering resulting from Taliban rule is made very clear.
More importantly, though, these 12 soldiers love the country they live in and an attack on their land means someone is going to pay. It makes sense that they jumped at an opportunity to hit the Taliban where it hurt.
I felt a real connection to the team as they journeyed through the mountains of Afghanistan. Their witty remarks about their lives, the war, and the situations they ended up in never failed to make me smile. This was not the stereotypical pre-battle banter trope all the time, but instead much more real.
The combat scenes were intense and bombing runs were a frequent sight. The awe factor was definitely amped up when seeing a team of horse soldiers ride into battle. Their plans of attack on chokepoints or villages are presented to the viewer and can then be seen panning out, which makes them easy to follow.
War movies have always piqued my interest. The gritty action scenes and witty banter among soldiers demonstrates the ugly horns that combat rears, while also bringing an emotional appeal into the picture.
Most reviewers place these types of movies at the lower end of the scale, and it is unjustified. You won’t find a deep emotional appeal with complex character development in a war movie. They are known for the action they show, and some reviewers read to deep into them.
One of the defining features of 12 Strong, however, is what draws me to most war movies in the first place. The sense of patriotism I feel after watching a movie where our American soldiers overcome all odds and defeat their enemies is unparalleled. 12 Strong told a heroic story, filled with brutal combat, and left me with a burning sense of pride for our country and our soldiers. I can definitely recommend a watch. 12 Strong opens Friday, Jan. 19.