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Critics Slam ’12 Strong’ – Jingoistic Film Treats Taliban Badly

Film critics didn’t exactly throw their arms around the new action film “12 Strong.”

The movie currently sits at 54 percent “rotten” at RottenTomatoes.com. The film beat studio projections over the weekend all the same, earning $15.8 million along with an “A” CinemaScore. RottenTomatoes.com users offered a much more friendly 75 percent “fresh” rating.

The critical consensus? A well-meaning war film filled with too many genre cliches. Other critics took the film to task in ways that remind us one irrefutable fact.

The majority of modern film critics lean to the left.

Some do more than let their ideology shine through. They’re aggressively partisan in their critical approach. Take the BirthDeathMovies.com review, which features a conventional takedown until this baffling series of barbs.

Perhaps strangest of all are 12 Strong’s politics; handling this first battle in the War On Terror as if the audience has forgotten the numerous lies and years of bloodshed that followed this inevitable victory …

How could a movie set during 2001 possibly include those details? Only the critic isn’t done.

The Taliban are portrayed as black-clad savages, executing women who teach others above eight years old how to read and write. Dostum is a mourning warrior, on a quest to avenge the deaths of his family at the hands of the terrorists’ merciless leader (Fahim Fazli). In short, 12 Strong plays like it’s trying to sell us on the nobility of a morally dubious conflict we’ve already experienced, knowing that these men were all essentially deployed in the name of nonsense.

The Taliban is every bit as monstrous as the movie suggests. More so, actually. Why not show it?

America is no longer grieving and vengeful, but clear-eyed and distrustful following a lack of WMDs, and scores dead after invading Afghanistan and Iraq. The movie’s righteous posturing is frankly baffling.

The Indiewire.com reviewer also takes issue with the film’s chronology.

The disillusionment that set in a few years after the events of “12 Strong” hadn’t yet come about here, and while it doesn’t exactly roll out the Mission Accomplished banner, the movie also seems uninterested in the fact that we still have soldiers on the ground a decade-and-a-half later.

Should the narrative awkwardly lurch to 2018? That makes no sense, save for a film critic eager to score cheap points on his own country.

The LA Times finds a creative way to slam the film.

That attempt would be more convincing if “12 Strong” had any interest in comprehending the plight of this war-torn nation from any perspective but that of a grieving, vengeful America. The tragedies that have stricken Afghanistan’s embattled citizens for generations have been conveniently distilled into the role of a young village boy who tags along with the Green Berets and who will be physically endangered, you immediately suspect, at the most dramatically opportune moment.

Why is it wrong to tell the heroes’ story from … the heroes’ perspective? Plus, the film does include information about the Northern Alliance and why it seethes with hate at the Taliban’s atrocities.

Now Toronto starts its review by playing the Race Card. The outlet describes the movie as “a monochromatic experience of beige men running through grey terrain.”

For what it’s worth, the Green Berets in question feature both a Latino actor (Michael Pena) and a black co-star (Trevante Rhodes). The disdain drips further from there:

…the script, by Silence Of The Lambs Oscar-winner Ted Tally and Hunger Games screenwriter Peter Craig, is by-the-numbers jingoism. Hoo-rah, or whatever.

Slant Magazine goes all in to attack both America and the U.S. Military. Here’s the review’s third sentence (and more).

Meanwhile, America is still fighting the same damn war. But you’d hardly know that from watching this rah-rah recruitment film for the U.S. Army, which endeavors to look away from all the horrors associated from the American occupation of Afghanistan in order to return us to those halcyon days just after 9/11, when everything seemed so simple: The U.S. was good, al-Qaeda was bad, and the invasion of an impoverished country most Americans couldn’t even locate on a map was a purely just and righteous act.

The reviewer even clutches some pearls over the film showing the Taliban killing a young woman for trying to educate young girls. That’s how the Taliban roll. It still sticks in the reviewer’s craw.

This gruesome atrocity is cynically used to goose the audience’s moral outrage as well as to provide an additional rationale for the U.S.’s mission: Now it’s not just about revenge, but also liberation.

Later, he complains that the Taliban are “faceless,” as if we need to get to know each and every foe personally before we see them meet their maker.

The critic doubles down on this silliness.

That the men who die in these battles might not be purely “evil,” that they too might have families, friends, and lovers, is a nuance that 12 Strong doesn’t care to discern. The enemy here is just that, existing merely as foils for our American heroes.

Let’s deposit this critic in a Taliban stronghold and see how he feels a few days later. If any group can be described as evil, it’s a fair bet the Taliban earn that dishonor.

The Washington Post, where bias thrives in darkness, is upset that the Green Berets tell the wrong kind of jokes. Some of the dialogue is “inflected with an unsettling gallows humor that renders the real-world gravity of the situation unserious.”

Does the critic have any idea of how a soldier’s mind operates? How humor, particularly the jet black variety, is a coping mechanism in times of stress?

Thankfully, most film reviews stuck to the subject at hand and judged “12 Strong” on its merits. The aforementioned reviews are best reserved for comic relief.


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42 Comments

  1. If we can’t hate the Taliban, who can we hate. These are some of the most reprehensible, evil people on this earth. They killed women for learning to read.

    I don’t expect a movie critic to be a history professor, but they should at least has a grasp on the basic facts surrounding the event that is being portrayed on screen.

    Yeah, there were some Hollywood-isms in the film…like being able to hold a conversation in a running helicopter. But sometimes tropes exist, because they represent real life. Believe it or not most units DO have a guy from Texas in it.

    When a person who is supposed to review films let’s his/her personally held political beliefs override objectivity, then maybe it’s time to take a knee and let someone else take a turn at writing reviews.

    1. What do you expect from a bunch of reviewers sitting around Starbucks typing on their Mac? They hate our country and everything we stand for.

    2. If Satan himself arrived and destroyed whole cities, the left would support him over America. It doesn’t matter how evil a dictator or group, the left will carry their water if they are fighting the US.

  2. Just saw this. It was a really good movie. If you hate America you might as well skip it because it was patriotic and it was great seeing the story of our military destroying Taliban/Al Queda.

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  3. … the movie also seems uninterested in the fact that we still have soldiers on the ground a decade-and-a-half later.

    Has this critic ever considered that the reason those soldiers are still on the ground, is because (1) people like him/her undermined the war effort and (2) people like him/her elected the Squanderer-in-Chief who saw the wars as an opportunity to put an uppity America in its place, instead of fighting them with decisive resolve.

    (And spare me the diatribes about getting Bin Laden … a lot of work, starting in the Bush years, teed that up for President Putt Putt.)

    1. No – this critic never considered that the reason those soldiers are still on the ground, is because (1) people like him/her undermined the war effort and (2) people like him/her elected the Squanderer-in-Chief who saw the wars as an opportunity to put an uppity America in its place, instead of fighting them with decisive resolve.

      This critic thinks it’s because of american hegemony and war profiteering greed

    2. I had never heard of 12 strong, but if these leftie reviewers hate it so much, it might be a movie I want to see. Kind of like an Afghanistan version of American Sniper.

      1. By the way, I did see it one day after I wrote this comment, and it is a great movie, every bit as good as American Sniper.

  4. The Trump supporters in the theater were cheering it on. I was appalled and walked out, and walked into a much better movie, The Post, which is all too relevant nowadays with the criminal Trump and his crusade against the media, who live in fear of arrest if they dare speak out against this evil tyrant. I can;t wait for Mueller to order him arrested for collusion and obstruction of justice.

    1. Obama’s Administration has gone after more journalists than any other in history. See below. As of this writing I can’t think of any journalist tossed in the clink on Trump’s orders. Learn who your real enemy is.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/opinion/sunday/if-donald-trump-targets-journalists-thank-obama.html

      The Trump-Russia “collusion” meme was faked together in a panic to cover/bury (a) the Clinton email “inquiry” whitewash by the FBI, and (b) wholesale and illegal Obama Administration spying on the Trump campaign in 2016, possibly (probably?) using the phony Steele dossier to obtain the FISA warrant to do so. The cover-up, the spying, all were no big deal for the gangsters running the Obama Administration. Hillary was going to win the election and all that was going to disappear down the Memory Hole. Then Trump won and collective panic set in. The Russia-Trump interference thing is an attempt to change the subject.

      1. OH, I had just written a comment wondering if this was a parody, or whether he was a loon who really believed that crap. Its a good parody is you cant easily tell, although there are leftie loons who really talk like that.

        1. I got fooled too. There’s a reason ‘sarc’ or ‘sarcasm’ needs to be added to anything sarcastic concerning the Left. They are far past parody.

    2. This is such boilerplate Progressive pablum that it HAS to be a parody.
      If so, well done!
      If not, well… you need some fresh talking points.

    3. Original reply deleted…
      oops, should have looked at your other postings…
      sorry.
      Use a /sarc next time.
      🙂

  5. Speaking as a lifelong amateur historian, I think this is the single most amazing feat of American arms ever. These men, unlike the Navy Seals, are truly the “quiet professionals,” and they deserve every bit of glory we can give them. This movie is just a down payment.

    BTW, I don’t think much of the title, although it does beat ‘The Horse Soldiers.’ I believe comes from the first line of Barry Sadler’s song “The A Team,” which is what this movie should have been called. Too bad that title was taken.

  6. Nitwit critics also whined about”The Great Raid”, complaining that it was “too one sided towards the Japanese”.

    Apparently it didn’t delve into the “nuance” of Japanese sexual slavery and genocide.

    I guess that “Schindler’s List” was too one sided towards concentration camp staff. Come to think of it, I saw just such whining about “Defiance”, although that could just be leftist horror at Jews not meekly LETTING themselves be slaughtered.

    These days, in order to be a movie critic you must have to be a Marxist and a sociopath. But I repeat myself…

  7. The biggest reason, we are still there is because we burden ourselves with listening to these moronic critics — if We behave like our enemies we are no better than them — always Leads to slow progress. Unleash our forces, Saddam or Assad way and the problem will go away in no time. Shock and awe for more on our side. Time to really shock and awe the rest of the world at our ferocity, especially our enemies. Scorched earth has its benefits

  8. The Left hates US military members for one basic reason. When they look in the mirror, they see a person who had neither the courage or the selflessness to do what we do. So they have to soothe their ego by believing that we are all too uneducated to do anything else. And too ignorant of what they know to understand how what we do is “wrong”. It’s why they’ve all rushed to join the #resistance. They equate keyboard courage with the kind of courage that is required to be in the military.

    1. The Left hates the US Military because the US Military was in large part responsible for the fall of the the USSR. The Left loved the Soviets and wanted them to win the Cold War.

      Of course, the fall of the Soviet Union was due in large measure to the strength of our Capitalist system (which the Left also hates), but our military, with it’s vasty superior weapons and training, was the most prominent outward sign of our overall might. And the Russians went broke trying to equal it.

  9. I saw 12 Strong and did not like it because it was an action movie not a war film. I was hoping for something along the lines of Blackhawk Down or American Sniper but instead got big explosions and cliches. Only Bruckheimer could f’up the telling of a great story this bad.

    1. Yours might be a more fair criticism than the leftie drivel they are talking about here, I will see the movie anyway so I can tell for myself. But action movies have their place too.

      1. I saw the movie one day after I wrote this comment, and I disagree with devildogs comment. Yes the movie had a lot of shootup scenes and a huge body count, but those guys actually did that stuff, so it was historical. Moreover the discussions of strategy and tactics seemed very realistic, the initial shacky relations with Dostum and the northern Alliance people is probably accurate, the hateful protrayful of the Taliban is accurate (they were very hateful people), and the comments and attitudes of the guys on the team look like something written by people that knew how real soldiers think and act. I would rate it as every bit as good as American sniper.

  10. Certainly the Taliban are third world denizens, but it is Islam that makes them monsters. Still. The contest at hand in Afghanistan is an amalgam of Western Civilization vs. Islam. An Islam goaded and protected by the Chinese factotum Pakistan. Lesse: Korea:China, Vietnam:China, Tibet:China – Taiwan, Hong Kong, South China Sea, Cyberwar, Intellectual Property Espionage. Twelve strong is/was an example of what millions may have to do in the future.

  11. WMDs in Afghanistan? What planet is the BirdDeath reviewer on? Scores dead? War has a way with death.

    Imagine these reviewers on “The Longest Day”: The “bloodshed that followed this inevitable victory…”

    1. True, we did not go to Afghantistan because they had WMD, we went there becasue the Taliban harbored Bin Laden and had the Al Quaida training camps. The idiot reviewer is lumping Afghanistan and Iraq together.

  12. I knew that the left would drag out this battle against the Taliban and “radical” Islam (is there any other type?) when they got GW to back-off his saying that this was a CRUSADE against evil.
    Suddenly the left was saying that it brought back terrible memories of the Crusades, some 730-odd years ago, and here we are.
    There use to be a word for these types of people – collaborators .

  13. Only leftie film critics would be miffed by portraying the Taliban negatively.

    But it is at least a consistent aspect of liberal psychology, i.e. anything that can be positioned—albeit schizophrenically—as against a white, Christian America is automatically worthy of left-wing sympathy no matter how viciously anti-liberal the group might be.

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