“We’re fighting with horsemen against tanks,” a confounded
Thor Chris Hemsworth is heard saying, his voice trembling, over a vivid montage of Green Berets unloading on Taliban and al Qaeda fighters with M4s from charging steeds in the new trailer for Warner Bros’ 12 Strong.
The film is based on the true story of the Horse Soldiers, an elite group of U.S. Air Force combat controllers and soldiers with the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group’s Operational Detachment Alpha 595 who were the first to invade Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Codenamed Task Force Dagger, the mission seemed simple at first: Join up with Northern Alliance fighters ahead of a multi-national offensive to oust the Taliban from power. There was only one problem: Afghanistan and its rugged terrain left the small team of special operators with only one option: Saddle up.
The film, which premieres Jan. 19, 2018, is directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and packed with an all-star cast, from Hemsworth (Red Dawn, Thor, The Avengers) to Michael Peña, Michael Shannon, and Rob Riggle, who ditches his Marine cammies for Army duds.
— Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX) October 19, 2017
“It’s a fascinating story. These guys went in with the strong possibility that they would not coming be back,” producer Jerry Bruckheimer told USA Today, which got an exclusive Oct. 17 look at the trailer. “They had to go through these mountain passes the only way they could do it, on horses.”
Set to a haunting rendition of the late Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” the trailer hits all the key marks for an entertaining war movie: special operations warfare — a 12-man team dispatched a month after 9/11 to join local fighters ahead of conventional forces; frenetic gunplay and dicey firefights — remember that bit about taking on enemy armor with horses?; and moments of solemnity, as Shannon (Iceman, Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) pens a “death letter” in case he’s killed and advises Hemsworth to do the same.
Though it’s high time this story (which notably features zero Navy SEALs) gets its debut on the big screen, the trailer skews heavily toward action, and the novelty of mounted combat in the age of heliborne inserts and armored assaults, over introspection. With any luck, 12 Strong will dive into the ambiguity of America’s longest war from the perspective of the men who fired the first shots in a conflict that “will be over in a week,” as Peña’s character tells his wife, but instead became a grueling 16-year and counting affair. If the film succeeds in hitting black on those targets, instead of taking aim at just how peculiar the mission was, then it’ll be a worthy tribute to the hardships — and saddle-chafing — those men endured.