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12 Strong: Movie Review

Hannah Goodwyn


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On September 11, 2001, 19 men attacked our country. 12 Strong is about the dozen American soldiers who were the first to fight back.

It's a backward, true David and Goliath story just weeks after 9/11, pitting 12 highly-trained fighters from the world's foremost superpower against an entrenched, ready-to-die Taliban army.

Based on the best-selling book, Horse Soldiers, this new film, starring Chris Hemsworth and Oscar nominee Michael Shannon, follows the U.S. Special Forces unit as they meet up and partner with a warlord in northern Afghanistan to take down the ruthless regime harboring Al Qaeda fighters.

Patrioritc to its core, 12 Strong honors the men who went into dangerous, uncharted terriority so as to prevent another 9/11. Something needed to be done. The World Trade Center laid in piles of rubble. So, a call was made and these 12 guys answered it. Their courageous team, sent on a crazy mission, received no recognition as they returned home (the operation remained top secret for years).

Relief and gratitude. That's what 12 Strong elicts as its end credits roll. Like with most based-on-real-life war movies, it's beyond humbling to witness harrowing scenes unfold on screen as you sit in an AC-cooled theater, munching on popcorn in between sips of Coke Zero. These guys did what no one did. They accomplished an almost impossible task. These years later, with the files now declassified, a statue stands as a tribute to their bravery at the World Trade Center site in New York.

So, does 12 Strong live up to its incredible story?

While the film falters a bit, its heart is strong. Real depth is found in a few moments and main characters (including the Afghan warlord), but there's this unshakable feeling that some more digging still needed to be done to make the film truly great.

Rated R for "war violence and language throughout", this movie is not suitable for general audiences. Caution is adamantly advised. Though not as gory as Hacksaw Ridge, Saving Private Ryan, or its more contemporary counterpart, Black Hawk Down, 12 Strong still drops you in a war zone. 

If you have no plans to see 12 Strong or are not a watcher of war movies, do yourself (and these brave ones) the courtesy of reading up on what they accomplished in the first weeks of the Afghan War. If you are going to see it, watch it through to the end when the real men appear on screen.

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's