12 Strong is a true war story, told with as little art as possible

A talented cast is wasted in the story of the first Americans who went into Afghanistan after 9/11


12 STRONG (Nicolai Fuglsig). 130 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (January 19). See listing. Rating: NN


A long-brewing passion project for producer and noted military fetishist Jerry Bruckheimer, 12 Strong is the true story of the first American soldiers who went into Afghanistan following 9/11, and it is the least interesting version of that story imaginable: a monochromatic experience of beige men running through grey terrain, occasionally punctured with explosions or stretches of turgid dialogue about honour and the brotherhood of warriors.

Just weeks after the attacks on America, a handful of Special Forces troops were sent to make contact with an Afghani warlord and assist the Northern Alliance in retaking the Taliban stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif. They were given six weeks they did it in three with minimum casualties, mostly on horseback.

Even if 12 Strong is an accurate retelling, it’s devoid of any perspective or opinion, which keeps the interesting cast (Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Geoff Stults, Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes, William Fichtner and Rob Riggle) from doing anything interesting to flesh out their characters.

Danish commercial director Nicolai Fuglsig brings nothing to the table other than a love of rockets streaking across canyons and soldiers caked in dust, and the script, by Silence Of The Lambs Oscar-winner Ted Tally and Hunger Games screenwriter Peter Craig, is by-the-numbers jingoism. Hoo-rah, or whatever.

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