– by David Kozlowski

War is an all-time favorite genre for Hollywood, and our nation’s ongoing conflicts in the Middle East have provided ample material for studios to tell an incredible array of different stories — many based on actual events. So, it’s rare to come across something new in this realm, it’s rarer still when a war film express multiple perspectives. Jerry Bruckheimer and Nicolai Fugslig’s 12 Strong focuses on the first U.S. forces to hit the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11, but it’s also the story of the alliances they forged with the local people and their indigenous forces.

There’s quite a lot of nuance within the storytelling; the film focuses on more than just American Special Forces troops, there’s also a great deal of focus on the Afghanistan people and their culture, too. Such subtly might not be what you’d expect from Bruckheimer, whose credits include Top Gun and Con Air, but he’s also responsible for Crimson Tide and Black Hawk Down, which were exceptional military dramas.

Related – 12 Strong Director Nicolai Fugslig On Interacting With Real-Life Heroes, & Where He Was On 9/11

During a recent press conference, the actors, producers, and director all shared what they learned, experienced, and took away with them while making this film.

Thad Luckingbill, actor and producer:

“What stands out the most was the bravery of these guys… these guys were essentially the first guys in, they didn’t really know how to do the job they were supposed to do, they learned on the fly, they did it without complaining… they did it through bravery and patriotism, and that was really meaningful to portray.”

Chris Hemsworth, who plays Captain Mitch Nelson, talks about the relationships he forged with the military veterans and local Afghan people:

“The real guys themselves [U.S. Special Forces] talking about how important it was for them, for their own survival, when they first got there, to convince the local people that they weren’t there to occupy the country… the local [Afghanistan] people that we had working with us, thanked us for telling this story, the whole world thinks we’re terrorists, but we’re on the same side… That meant a lot, I think, to all of us.”

Bruckheimer, producer:

“These men don’t see themselves as heroes. They’re just doing their job… They’re professionals, and they’re highly trained, highly intelligent, and they’re dedicated. The fact that they went into this country and bonded with the Afghan people… this group of 12 men got them to all work together against a common foe.”

Nicolai Fuglsig, director:

“[The film] is a homage to the human spirit, these folks on the Afghan and American sides, all these heroes are just ordinary people, they could be your friend, your neighbor, but under extreme circumstances they all rose to the extraordinary.”

Bruckheimer, producer:

“This is a secret story that we’re now telling about a part of our society that’s been fighting now for 17 years… These guys succeeded because they weren’t afraid to fail. We talk so much about success in this country, but the reality is, the Special Forces guys are trained how to fail… this is a completely different take on the combat movie.”

12 Strong looks like a solid, sincere, and serious war film that focuses on the sacrifices of the indviduals involved, rather than just depicting the violence and trauma of combat. Whether it’s comparable to past and recent greats in the genre, like American Sniper or The Hurt Locker, remains to be seen. However, it’s clear from this press conference that all involved approached the subject-matter with respect and reverence.

What’s your favorite war movie of all-time? Let us know in the comments down below!

12 Strong hits theaters on January 19, 2018.

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David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.