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12 Strong movie: Review, Cast, Story and Director

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Film: 12 Strong

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, William Fichtner, Michael Pena, Naveed Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill, Elsa Pataky

Director: Nicolai Fuglsig


Rating: * * * *

Endowed with fine actors, this feel good war drama based on declassified info narrates the story of America’s initial response to 9/11, through a special team, the first ever deployed to Afghanistan after the horrific destruction of the Twin Towers in NYC in 2001.Their mission is to work with Northern Alliance general (Naveed Negahban as Abdul Rashid Dostum) who detests the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) who is summoned from leave, like his fellow soldiers, is sent to an American base in Uzbekistan, and subsequently, to the opium-rich “graveyard of many empires”.

There, we see how the Taliban, armed with machine guns, tanks, and rocket launchers, use medieval traditions and theological texts to oppress Afghans. The movie uses doc footage of 9/11, bin Laden, and of Afghan women being stoned to death. Also, a fictionalised rendering of a young mother, murdered for home-schooling her daughters while Taliban thugs wave aloft and cite a text which states that girls should not be educated after age eight.

General Dostum turns out to be an unfathomable ally, who gives the Americans very few horses to traverse the harsh terrain and withholds strategic information, despite which the team led by Capt Nelson manages to win, encounter after encounter with support from airborne firepower, until the final spectacular standoff at Mazar-i-Sharif.

Patriotism and courage are qualities Dostum shares with the Americans though one might quibble with the complex value he accords to death. He also says, “You’re cowards if you leave, enemies if you stay.” Ideally, enmity should turn into friendship as post-war Europe has shown.