12 Strong is another patriotic American war movie depicting soldiers as heroes (and is also based on a true story). The gimmick with this one though is that the 12 soldiers ride into battle on horses. Aside from that though, there really is not too much else to separate it from the crowd.
Great comedic undertones. While the movie may be about a serious topic, 12 Strong actually made great use of comedy throughout. The comedy elements were handled well and the occasional off-hand joke by a character really brought life to the movie. These comedic moments were few, but they never really felt out of place.
Fun characters. More of an extension on the previous point, I found each character to be at least somewhat likable, each with his own quirk to define the character. This was mostly achieved through the film’s comedic moments, rather than the battle sequences. There was not a single character that I outright disliked, despite the rather poor characterization throughout.
Pacing that fell apart towards the end. 12 Strong is a movie that, up until the last third or so, had pretty decent pacing. No scene felt too rushed and there were only a couple that dragged on. This all changed in the last third of the movie. The pacing ramped up tremendously and it was honestly quite jarring. The few scenes that were supposed to be emotional were not, simply because of how quickly they came and went. The ending was unsatisfying as a result. An additional thirty minutes would have worked in the movie’s favor.
Some misplaced shots. During the battle sequences, there was always a couple shots that just did not feel like they belonged. One moment there will be a couple dozen soldiers on screen trading fire with each other and the next moment the camera will be staring at the sun from under a soldier for a brief period (maybe two or three seconds). These scenes happened only during the battle scenes and did not really add anything other than taking the viewer out of the action. Perhaps they were added to make the battles seem even more chaotic, but every other shot does that job fine.
Not realistic in the slightest. The battle sequences really made this point shine, making the Taliban seem like storm troopers. The heroes of the story would oftentimes charge straight at the enemy, in the open, and somehow escape just fine. This happened in every single battle. It definitely gave the movie more of a “movie” feeling, but certainly did not help in telling a “true story”.
12 Strong is a average movie overall. It does not do a whole lot to set itself apart from other patriotic American war movies, but it never really tried to do so. Average soundtrack, average acting, etc. It just stuck with its horse gimmick and rolled with it. If that is your thing, then definitely check it out.