Thursday, February 01, 2018

12 Strong (2018)

sHaving MoviePass means that I’m getting movies by the month, which makes for some strange decisions.  12 Strong is not a movie I would normally have seen in the theater.  The Commuter is not a movie I would normally have seen in the theater, either, but I had already seen that.  Still, I managed to make it all the way through both movies.  I think that’s more of an accomplishment with 12 Strong.

For those that haven’t seen the coming attractions, 12 Strong is about a group of soldiers, Green Berets and CIA operatives that were sent into Afghanistan shortly after the September 11 attacks.  The goal was to take a city called Mazar-I-Sharif.  Apparently, it’s important to the Taliban.  Captain Mitch Nelson is given command of the titular 12 that are sent in to meet with General Dostum.

Dostum leads a local army that will be helping Nelson and his men.  Before the group takes Mazar-I-Sharif, they have to go through and bomb several other areas.  The first area takes a few tries to get right, but they do level it.  Subsequent areas seem to go more smoothly.  They do eventually make it to Mazar-I-Sharif and take the city, as planned.  All 12 of the men get to go home safely.

The movie wasn’t quite as exciting as I would have expected with a war movie.  Part of this may be because the movie seemed to be going through the motions rather than writing an interesting story.  I understand that there’s only so much you can do with a true story before it becomes fiction, but the movie seemed somewhat bland.

Take the fact that they had to go through several cities before capturing the big city.  I didn’t really understand why they couldn’t go to the important city first, then maybe work their way back if they the other areas.  I’m sure there’s a reason for this, but I don’t recall it being covered in the movie.  Nelson and Dotsum lead their respective troops from area to area, blowing stuff up as needed.

The movie even starts with two of the soldiers telling their wives that they‘re leaving.  Captain Nelson even promises his wife that he’ll come home alive.  Bad idea?  Yes.  Cliché?  Most definitely.  Does it make the story more poignant?  Not really.

I think the biggest negative for me was that there wasn’t much of a sense of accomplishment.  It’s not really stated why any of the targets had any value, other than that’s where the enemy was.  There was mention of another team being sent in to take a different path, but any sense of competition wasn’t brought up that often.

When I came out of the movie, I felt like I was missing any sense of new perspective.  It seemed like this was the version of the story you’d tell to someone who had been there.  I get that the mission was accomplished in abut three weeks when it was supposed to take about two years, but it just didn’t seem that difficult.  The movie didn’t seem to convey any sense of scale or tension.  It just told the story.  If you want to see it, I’d wait for it to come out on Netflix.

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