War movies have a long and storied history in Hollywood.
They frequently make appearances at award ceremonies and typically make a lot of money at the box office.
They also tend to attract plenty of acting talent.
Just look at Black Hawk Down (which has more famous actors in the cast than most people can remember), Saving Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line.
More recently we’ve had the incredibly well-made, emotionally-stirring and Oscar-winning war dramas Hacksaw Ridge and Dunkirk.
With those two films in mind, it’s hard to see 12 Strong as anything but your run-of-the-mill war movie.
The film is set in Afghanistan shortly after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.
Captain Mitch Nelson (Aussie Chris Hemsworth) leads a team of 12 men into the north of the Middle Eastern country to help the Northern Alliance take back a pivotal city from the clutches of the Taliban.
They become the first American team to engage in conflict as a result of September 11.
With the backing of a strong Afghan army led by General Dostum (Navid Negahban), the Americans advance on the city of Mazar-i Sharif. The terrain is mountainous and unforgiving – meaning the soldiers must rely on horses to reach their destination.
Where 12 Strong fails to be as, well, strong as other recent wartime films, is its lack of emotional resonance.
All the previously mentioned movies pack a strong emotional punch and have a whole host of moments that will bring a tear to the eye.
Sadly, 12 Strong doesn’t deliver that.
It is an interesting story from a military strategy standpoint, but it’s hard to feel a real connection with the characters. Hemsworth is decent as an army captain and he is well supported by some great characters actors – namely Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water) and Michael Pena (Ant-Man).
Curiously, three of the dozen actors making up the 12 Strong team appeared in last year’s fantastic firefighting true story Only the Brave, which was about a team of 20 ‘hotshots’ facing an incredibly difficult blaze.
It isn’t of the standard of other recent hits, but 12 Strong is a perfectly adequate war film.