This fact-based war film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer is a slick and muscular production. But like so many muscles in Hollywood, it all feels rather fake: steroidal and pumped up rather than legitimately hard-won.
The story of the first special forces team to be deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11, if 12 Strong doesn’t exactly rewrite history, it certainly misleads by selective omission. Chris Hemsworth stars as the inexperienced captain of an elite team of soldiers who are choppered into Taliban-held territory to make contact with a warlord. Their mission is to call in airstrikes; but due to the terrain, the Americans find themselves fighting on horseback like the Afghan warriors they battle alongside.
The competent action sequences borrow the cinematic language of the western as well as the war movie – these are heavily armed cowboys, whooping their way into the fray, dodging missiles rather than arrows. Their triumph is America’s triumph. But large chunks of audience memory loss are required for it to be viewed as such.