Imagine: you finally came home from serving a brutal tour in the Middle East just three weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks strike New York and Washington, D.C. Even though you just got home, your country needs you once again.
This was the reality for U.S. Special Forces captain Mitch Nelson and the men of Task Force Dagger. “12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers,” directed by Danish director Nicolai Fuglsig, is a war drama documenting the covert mission to spearhead the invasion of Afghanistan in retaliation for 9/11.
Captain Mitch Nelson (played by Thor franchise star Chris Hemsworth), along with a collection of CIA paramilitary officers, USAF Combat Controllers and other U.S. Special Forces servicemen, volunteered to be reassigned to Afghanistan without giving it a second thought. His team was assigned to join forces with the Afghan Northern Alliance, led by General Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Neghaban), in order to fight an unconventional defensive style of warfare against the Taliban. They did this not knowing if they would ever return to their families following this risky month-long mission.
The movie, based on Doug Stanton’s bestselling novel “Horse Soldiers,” accurately captured the desperate situation the soldiers found themselves in overseas. With constant setbacks from the moment they arrived in Afghanistan, the motley militiamen’s struggles to find food, water and warmth are documented in stark detail. “12 Strong” plays on the paranoia of the team’s mission as well as the U.S. soldiers regularly have no idea what to expect from their enemies or their assigned allies in the Northern Alliance. Hemsworth, alongside the solidly-developed ensemble cast, portrayed the fear, questions and internal struggles that the soldiers went through everyday tremendously well. The film goes out of its way to show the developing bonds between the soldiers and the people of Afghanistan as well as respect the Afghan culture.
Overall, “12 Strong” is an engaging and emotional film about the efforts of Task Force Dagger and their efforts to stop terrorism at its doorstep. If you have two hours to spare, “12 Strong” is definitely worth your time.