Nicolai Fuglsig's Star is Born in "12 Strong"

We think of stars being born on camera. What about directors?

My below review is not about the accuracy of the events depicted and covers my thoughts on the movie as a viewer.

The So-So First

Nicolai Fuglsig's first feature film, 12 Strong, has its moments. Starting with the lesser notes: Chris Hemsworth is a better actor than usual here. The movie needed a lot tighter editing and less running time to make it work like Dunkirk, everyone's new standard for war storytelling. The awkwardness of Chris Hemsworth starring opposite his real wife and it being super weird like ... hmm ... not actual acting. Them goofing off pretending to not know each other. ;) #winkwink

That this could pass as any war movie released post-2005. The standout actor in this whole movie, and I wish I remembered his character's name to find the actor's name, is the gentleman leading them to the Taliban. Natural is too mild a word to describe how good he was. You'd think he were the mega-name movie star top billed on the production!

The Outstanding

Past all that, you realize the real star of this movie is Mr. Fuglsig. I watch a lot of movies, animated and not, as part of my learning experiences and lifelong passion. I was eight years old at one time watching movies like I do now. Mr. Fuglsig gives us beautifully directed action sequences. I felt like I was watching someone else's work, maybe an action movie from a while back like an Avatar or film where the director really cares about the action versus the attitude of "let's get this over with."

The mountains and whole scenery start to finish are perfection. How he films the actors and somehow got a semi-good performance out of Chris Hemsworth, who don't get me wrong is physically a beautiful man but I feel sometimes rushes his acting. And yes, I would say that to his face. I don't write anything on here I would not say to anyone personally if I were to meet them, and I do meet people. I love Chris Hemsworth and strongly believe one day he has it within him to be the grand movie star he deserves to be if only he would bring it with his acting as the dude is halfway there by being so photogenic. 12 Strong is promising for him.


When I read Mr. Fuglsig was a photojournalist, it all made sense. From his Wikipedia:

Nicolai Fuglsig is a Danish film director and photojournalist. He graduated from the Danish School of Journalism. In 1999, his book on an untold nuclear disaster (Techa River pollution by the Mayak plutonium production site) won the ICP Infinity Award[1] in New York City and the World Press Photo First Prize, as well as the Kodak prize for Best Photographer Under 30.

While on assignment as a photographer in the Kosovo War, Fuglsig learned directing as he recorded footage that eventually became a 15-minute documentary, Return of the Exiled. The film was shown on Danish national television and was screened in Danish cinemas. Today, in addition to his commercial career, Fuglsig has a number of high concept movie projects in various stages of production, backed by major studios and independent financiers.

Fuglsig won the Gold Lion in the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June 2006, and the Grand Prix at the Midsummer Awards in London in July 2006, for his work on a Sony Bravia commercial featuring 250,000 bouncing balls let loose on the largest hill in San Francisco (Filbert and Leavenworth). He made his American feature film debut in 2018 with 12 Strong.
— Wikipedia, which is edited by the public and means it's always 100% accurate

As this is his first movie with a big budget, he probably did not have the creative freedoms he would've liked – and pulled it off anyway, more or less. As I can't say enough, the running time and edits could've been so much shorter. The storytelling when it's good is REALLY GOOD. You feel like you're there–and maybe that's his journalism background going. The part where they don't allow the children to be given reading materials feels like you are living it and makes up for the weird bits like I talked about, one being Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky acting alongside each other in almost a parody. Some real life couples do the acting together really well. This was like...SNL. The good moments in this movie overshadowed all of the so-so/meh things I disliked that I would watch this again for those good moments where the director really shot well and brought out the acting graciously from his cast.

Mr. Fuglsig given a proper film project like a Star Wars or Shutter Island where people would get more acquainted with his work, give him creative control, and all of this, wow, will he be a big deal movie director. I cannot wait for that day and hope so badly it happens for him that he is where he deserves to be among great filmmakers–and that he avoids the negativity some great filmmakers follow up with which includes giving up on your will to direct and live large creatively. You'll see promising people fizzle out. I hope he strengthens what he already does well and gives us a few if not more decades of outstanding work I know lives in his mind, based on this promising beginning!