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There are many war films find themselves falling into the same trap: in an attempt to emphasize the heroism of the protagonists, a certain "us versus them" mentality is fostered, and an important element of the humanity in the storytelling is stripped away. We see this happen all the time, but it isn't the case for the new film 12 Strong. One of the most vital aspects of the plot is the level of cooperation between American and native forces in the early days of the Afghanistan War, and it not only enriches the film, but star Trevante Rhodes recently told me that he feels it was the most important thing the movie has to offer:
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of sitting down with Trevante Rhodes during the Los Angeles press day for 12 Strong, and while our conversation touched on multiple topics, we got at the heart of him joining the movie right in the middle. I inquired about how much he knew about the story the film is based on -- adapted from the non-fiction book "Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story Of A Band Of US Soldiers Who Rode To Victory In Afghanistan" -- and he noted that the script was his first time hearing about it. That wound up being key, however, because it let him view the whole thing with fresh eyes, and acknowledge the significance of cooperation during the covert mission.
Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, 12 Strong tells the true story of America's first military movements in the days after the September 11th attacks -- following a group of Special Forces soldiers into Afghanistan. They were assigned the task of driving Taliban forces out of the occupied city of Mazar-i-Sharif, but in order to accomplish this task must work side-by-side with Afghani troops led by the enigmatic and stoic General Dostum (Navid Negahban). Trust doesn't immediately form between the two groups, but it ultimately proves crucial in the mission, with Dostum and his men knowing the territory and how to move around, and the Americans bringing the might of the most advanced military on the planet.
All war movies are about the intense hell that is war, and the bravery of the individuals who choose to fight in it -- but as Trevante Rhodes pointed out, there is an extra special layer in 12 Strong. It entirely strikes down the concept of "us versus them," highlighting the vital input that Afghanistan soldiers had in the fight against the Taliban, and the film is ultimately better for it.
12 Strong, which boasts an awesome cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Trevante Rhodes, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban, William Fichtner, Rob Riggle, and more, arrives in theaters this Friday, January 19th -- and stay tuned for more from my interviews with the stars here on CinemaBlend!