Based on the American journalist Doug Stanton’s non-fiction book Horse Soldiers, 12 Strong tells the tale about some of the first American troops sent into Afghanistan to fight the Taliban following the 9-11 attacks. These 12 salty dudes were lead by Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth). The native troops were lead by General Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) who in reality later became the Vice President of Afghanistan.
Overcoming a different language and culture shock was only the start of the transitional woes faced by these solders. They had to quickly adapt to a way of life and harsh environment that was unlike anything that had experienced before. They were also tremendously out numbered by the Taliban and their sympathisers.
The movie plays out in somewhat standard war scenario form where they rise to the occasion and show both great bravery but also adaptive skills. Where the film generates the most interest is in contrasting the American army’s reliance on technology and air supported bombing runs with the ‘till the death’ style of warfare practiced by the native troops with their belief that heaven promised great riches.
The two divergent sides become accustomed to each other and work out a way of coexisting. They learn to respect each other but also how to take advantage of each others skill sets. Something that area of the world seems to have lost touch with after these early successes.