In the weeks following 9/11, the US sent a covert team into Afghanistan to liberate (and bomb the absolute bejesus out of) a handful of Taliban-occupied towns.
The squad joined forces with a local Afghan warlord, and together they traversed the mountainous region on horseback, calling in airstrikes, gunning down Taliban troops and kickstarting the War on Terror.
It’s a striking image – these men on their horses protecting democracy – and now that it’s been declassified, it’s pure, uncut Hollywood bait. If you wanted to trap a producer under a cardboard box, you’d use a doodle of Chris Hemsworth saving the world on the back of a pony to do it.
It was almost inevitable too, given the facts of the story, that this Bruckheimer-produced war drama turned out to be a two-hour long army recruitment video, the kind of jingoistic, flag-waving soldier porn that doesn’t travel well outside of United States of Mother-Effing America.
There’s Bay-grade spectacle and some truly marvellous explosions to behold, though it’s in lieu of the slightest shred of commentary, nuance or critical hindsight. And as the bodycount of faceless Middle-Eastern extras begins to hit triple figures, it’s difficult not to squirm in your saddle.
With better pacing – your mind will be wandering by the fifth airstrike – 12 Strong might have been dumb fun. As it stands, it’s a hot pile of horse plops.