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Wick's Review

Created Jan 26, 2018 11:02PM PST • Edited Oct 08, 2019 07:28AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    12 Strong is no run-of-the-mill war movie, to be valued on its moral complexity and clever comebacks. No, 12 Strong is morally simple and often wooden, making it rather unfashionable in our morally confused era. Of course, we also live in the Islamist Era, sharing God’s Earth with a medieval minority of the world’s largest religion, many of whom want to die while dramatically slaughtering innocent women and children.

    September 11th seared that reality into our American consciousness, stunning us and bringing us together, briefly. 12 Strong starts then and continues for the following two months: October & November 2001.

    Seventeen years remove has dulled the memories of 9/11, mercifully. Yet, the campaign to rout Al Quaeda from Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan was a triumph, at a time when America really, truly needed a win.

    Operation Enduring Freedom featured good old American ingenuity, boldness, grit and grace. 12 Strong capably shows more than a little of the ingenuity, e.g., horse soldiers calling in smart bombs from B52s.

    Morally Simple

    One scene in 12 Strong stands out and should be required viewing for everyone in the liberal West.
    A Taliban mullah stands over an Afghani family in the middle of a dusty village street, the mother shrouded in a burqa, the father held down by two commandos, their three little daughters on their knees, sobbing.

    “You’re a smart girl” the mullah queries the eldest child, “What’s the animal with the long neck?”

    “Giraffe” she replies through sobs. “How do you spell it?” he continues. She answers, correctly.

    Then to her little sister, a sprite not even ten years old. “What is 57 + 119?” She answers, correctly.

    Then he pronounces judgement. The parents having committed the unforgivable sin of educating their daughters, he holds a gun to the mother’s veiled head, pulls the trigger and puts a bullet through her brain.

    Her three traumatized daughters and distraught husband? Close enough to be splattered by her blood.

    Americans killing that kind of evil makes for some major moral simplicity. 12 Strong has it, in spades.

  3. Great 4.0

    Chris Hemsworth leads the Horse Soldiers and the movie as Captain Mark Nutsch, a Green Beret team leader who had yet to see combat. He lacked killer eyes, observed a local warlord. Heman Hemsworth got them soon enough, killer eyes that is. Unlike in Thor: Ragnarok, he didn’t even need FX to call them up.

    • Elsa Pataky – the real life Mrs. Chris Hemsworth – plays his wife in the movie.
    • Michael Shannon plays his right-hand man, less impressively than Shannon usually is.
    • Michael Peña is likable as usual as an SFC member of the Green Beret Special Ops team.
    • Trevante Rhodes as an SFC with a taste for lollypops
    • Geoff Stults & Thad Luckinbill as other members of the Green Beret team
    • William Fichtner as real life Green Beret Colonel John Mulholland
    • Rob Riggle as real life Lt. Col. Max Bowers, Commander of the 5th Special Forces Group
    • Taylor Sheridan as Brian
    • Navid Negahban is appropriately hardcore as real-life General Abdul Rashid Dostum, leader of the Northern Alliance and now Vice President of Afghanistan
    • Peter Malek as a Taliban mullah who slaughters women and children
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Great 4.0

    The action is harder to follow than it should be, but this is an otherwise impressive and impressively real take on real war from just a few years ago.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Very Good 3.5
  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.4
  15. Sex Innocent 1.3
  16. Violence Savage 3.7
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.3
  18. Glib 1.3

    Impressively real, albeit 12 Strong needlessly changes some names, plays with its timeline in minor fashion, and stages one classic near-death injury, but is otherwise said to hew close to actual events.

    History vs. Hollywood on 12 Strong does an especially solid job laying out real from reel.

    Further Reading

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.9
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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