Friday, May 24, 2024

’12 Strong’…The Horse Soldiers Mission is No Longer a Well Kept Secret

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trevante rhodes - 12 strong - horses
Trevante Rhodes stars in ’12 Strong’

“What is the difference between a warrior and a soldier?” was a question asked at a “12 Strong” press conference held on Saturday, January 6, 2018, at the London West Hollywood (California), where several of the actors, as well as the producers, director and author of the book that inspired the newest war drama, were on hand to discuss what I believe is a must see film.

“12 Strong,” written by Doug Stanton, directed by award-winner Nicolai Fuglsig and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Black Label Media (Molly Smith and Trent and Thad Luckinbill), tells the story of an elite U.S. Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11 to take down the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies and stars Chris Hemsworth (“Avengers” and “Thor”) as Captain Mitch Nelson, the Team Leader, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena and others, including Trevante Rhodes of “Moonlight” fame.

Albuquerque, New Mexico was transformed into Afghanistan and thanks to director Nicolai Fuglsig’s precise and meticulous nature, the transformation worked and although they were actually transported to Albuquerque, it appeared as though they landed in Afghanistan.

Iranian actor Navid Negahban, who played General Abdul Dostum, received praise from fellow actor and producer Thad Luckinbill for reaching out to the Afghans who live in Albuquerque and getting them involved in the film, saying, “Navid reached out to a lot of these communities and he should get a lot of credit for that.  It was great to have the real people there, authentic Afghans, like we had authentic people teaching us how to do the military stuff right.  We had them as well and thank you Navid for that.”

12 strong - poster

File this one under, “When in Rome” (or in this case Afghanistan):  Captain Nelson and his team had to use an unconventional mode of transportation; horses.  As was the case with the real life Special Forces team, some of the actors were not accustomed to riding.  Navid, who has ridden horses before “forgot how old he was” and spent the next two weeks needing his fellow cast mates to help him on and off his horse.

Having to ride horses was not the only drawback experienced by the elite team.  Captain Nelson and his crew were also outnumbered, outgunned and in a foreign land with vast cultural differences.  Despite the cultural differences and original distrust, the Special Forces team and General Dostum were able to form an alliance to successfully fight the Taliban.

As producer Molly Smith pointed out, “12 Strong” is “not your typical military action flick.”  It’s a story of bravery and comradery and depicts the sacrifices our soldiers make.  Some of these men volunteered for a mission, which meant leaving their family and not knowing if they would return.  As Michael Shannon’s character, Bob Pennington said, “How do you love your family and leave them to go to war?”  That is the sacrifice our military makes every day.  This is just one of many missions that document the bravery, sacrifice and courage of our military.

Back to the difference between a warrior and a soldier.  Trevante shared his thoughts saying, “Warriors lead with their heart, soldiers lead with their mind and I think it’s very valuable to lead with your heart because that’s, at least in my opinion, that’s the only thing that is the most truest and most honest form of reaction.  Most of the times when we think and lead with our minds, we make mistakes.”

In that case, I’m thinking everyone associated with this well-made film must be a warrior because no mistakes were made.  Let’s see.  Choosing Albuquerque, New Mexico as a filming location?  Not a mistake.  The ensemble cast?  Not a mistake.  Jerry Bruckheimer and Black Label Media as producers?  Not a mistake.  Nicolai Fuglsig as the director?  Not a mistake.

The mistake will be if you don’t see “12 Strong.” To find a theater showing this remarkable film, click here.

marilyn smith
Marilyn Smith

Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles Based writer/reviewer. Contact her via [email protected].

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