Just because something is viewable on Netflix doesn’t mean it’s good. More often than not, the opposite is true, and that seems to be the case with the latest contender on the top 10 list: 12 Strong, a film starring Chris Hemsworth that scores a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film debuted at number 4 on Netflix’s Top 10 Movies list, where it joins others singing 2the newly released one The Sea Creaturethe classic from 2004 mean girls and the grand finale of the Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight rises.
What is 12 Strong about?
12 Strong is an adaptation of the 2009 non-fiction book Horse Soldiers written by Doug Stanton. Set in the weeks following the September 11 attacks, the film follows US Army Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth).
Originally set for a salaried job, Nelson volunteers to lead ODA 595 to Afghanistan to join forces with Uzbek warlord General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to fight both the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Assisting Nelson for the duration of the film are Chief Warrant Officer Hal Spencer (Michael Shannon), Intelligence Sergeant Sam Diller (Michael Peña), Sergeant Ben Mil (Trevante Rhodes), and the rest of ODA 595.
But it quickly becomes clear that the Afghan terrain is brutally unforgiving and the force must complete their mission on horseback. Also, because of the upcoming winter cold, they only have three weeks to get the job done.
What do the critics think of 12 Strong?
Film critics are a pretty unforgiving bunch, and 12 Strong ended up getting a 50% rating Rotten tomatoes (opens in new tab) — based on 173 reviews. Audiences were a little more forgiving, with a score of 62% based on over 5,000 reviews. IMDB (opens in new tab) currently displays a score of 6.5 out of 10 based on over 79,000 reviews.
Critics agree on Rotten Tomatoes that “12 Strong has a solid cast, honorable intentions, and a compelling fact-based story — all of which is, on occasion, enough to make up for a disappointing lack of depth or nuance.” The general feeling is that the casting and action sequences are strong, but the general execution is nothing special and the film fails to appreciate the larger impact of the US occupation of Afghanistan.
The Guardians (opens in new tab) Peter Bradshaw notes that 12 Strong is “all very simple: a feel-good war story from what feels like a distant age,” giving it 2 stars out of 5. David gem from vulture (opens in new tab) said that the film’s “story is unconventional and the film – produced by super slickster Jerry Bruckheimer – was shaped along conventional war film lines”.
Mike LaSalle at the Chronicle of San Francisco (opens in new tab) was a little more devastating at 2/4. “Maybe it’s enough that 12 Strong makes you feel good that the United States is still making guys like this. Too bad we didn’t get to know the real guys and their actual story.”
Some critics had positive things to say, even though the film has its flaws. Jimi Famureva, from the empire (opens in new tab), awarded 12 strong 3 stars out of 5, noting that it’s “an effective – if overly simplistic – neo-western that is eventually carried across the line by a scintillating ensemble cast. Likewise Christy Lemire from RogerEbert.com (opens in new tab) noted that the film is “solid from a technical point of view. Where the film could have used more strength is in its narrative verve” – with a score of 2.5 out of four.
Outlook: Should you watch 12 Strong?
If you’re a fan of big, loud war movies that portray the United States as the righteous good guys, then 12 Strong is worth a look. Of course, if you don’t like that sort of thing, then this is the movie to avoid. Especially if you have strong feelings about what has happened in Afghanistan since the last American forces left.
It all depends on your personal taste and what kind of movies you like. If you’re still a little unsure, there’s only one way to find out – go to Netflix. 12 Strong is only two hours and 10 minutes long, and if you don’t like what you’re watching, you always have the option to turn it off and start streaming one of the top Netflix shows or top Netflix movies.