Exactly how many misspent words would it take me to lose 80% of my readership?
That’s the question I’ve asked myself, given the fact a sizeable portion of the audience for this blog is female and I’m about to talk at length on the subject of war movies, and one war movie in particular.
12 STRONG is a newly released movie starring Thor (Chris Hemsworth) based on a non-fiction book published in 2010 called HORSE SOLDIERS by New York Times bestselling author and journalist Doug Stanton ( www.dougstanton.com ) It relates the true life account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban.
As a movie spectacle, this film is packed with wall to wall intricately choreographed battle sequences and enough deafening bombs and custom-built assault rifle gunfire to satisfy the most seasoned combat film aficionado. From a technical point of view it’s all very solid.
Yet 12 STRONG ends up being at best an almost-good film due to the presence of extremely thinly drawn characters and the lack of any real tension or twists or turns in the storyline. A disappointing lack of depth and nuance will prevent most people from engaging emotionally during any point in this film.
Instead, for most of the time the experience of 12 STRONG is like being made to watch someone else play a first-person shooter video game; one in which they’re tasked with blowing away wave after wave of faceless enemy in a pathos-less exercise in aim and shoot. The bad guys in the story are the tens of thousands of turban-clad, 2001-vintage Taliban fighters. Yet apart from a brief showing of news footage depicting the collapse of the World Trade Centre Twin Towers and a scene where a Taliban leader executes a woman found guilty of educating girls over the age of eight, there’s zero attempt to make you believe the enemy are a force of evil desperately in need of vaporizing and deserving of one’s loathing.
That’s called lazy filmmaking and the result is a strictly by-the-numbers attempt at injecting something fresh into the 9/11 narrative. If you crave seeing an excellent military flick, one that is equal parts thriller genre as well, get yourself a DVD copy of 2017’s THE WALL, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson (KICK-ASS & KICK-ASS 2).
Set during the Iraq War, it tells the story of two American soldiers pinned down in a cross-haired game of cat and mouse with an Iraqi sniper. There’s no Chris Hemsworth but its got rocket-launchers full of something completely missing from 12 STRONG – tension. Real, nerve-jangling. edge-of-your-seat tension.
If that’s still not enough to get your cammo ‘n combats on – try any of these beauts for size from my list of all-time fave war films-
Ps. Military not your thang? Then thanks for waiting patiently. Today begins the first of an occasional series where I relate the plot of a novel that sounds in some manner interesting.
Most of us have had the experience of ploughing through a book we were enticed to read by the intriguing sounding back-cover blurb only to encounter a story much longer than it seems and plots and characters that induce sleepiness. So I caution… these are storylines that sound interesting, at least to me, while the experience of actually reading the book may be a somewhat different thing –
A woman wakes up in hospital with no memory but is told she’s been in an horrific car accident and was apparently driving recklessly. Witnesses assume she was out of her mind on drugs; blood tests show otherwise but provide absolutely no clue as to what caused her to be running traffic lights at high-speed as though fleeing for her life.
Until now she has enjoyed a quietly affluent life in the suburbs with an adoring husband. She seems anxious to recover and regain her memory, but strange things keep happening.
There’s a neighbour who was once a friend but now is not, and her husband may not be all he seems. Then a body shows up, not far from the site of her mysterious accident.