(NEW YORK) — The Afghanistan war drama 12 Strong had a respectable showing at the box office over the weekend, debuting with just over than $16.5 million. An adaptation of Doug Stanton’s book Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan, the movie tells the story of a daring American mission carried out in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks.
The Special Forces soldiers were tasked with befriending — and fighting alongside — local militias against Osama bin Laden’s Taliban army.
Portraying this accurately was key for star Chris Hemsworth. “…The brotherhood they formed with …the Afghan people but also amongst the soldiers was something that kept coming up amongst all the guys I spoke to in this experience,” the actor says. “You know, the relationships they still keep to this day … is as strong as any family bond they’ve ever had.”
Realism was key for all involved. Legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who has a long history with the U.S. military going back to 1986’s Top Gun, says they were blessed to get the military’s support for 12 Strong. This led to the cast and crew shooting in New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range, and an accurate portrayal the story deserved.
“They had a lot of old Russian vehicles that they used for training, so we had the some of the Russian tanks: everything that would have been left over in Afghanistan [back then] is actually real,” Bruckheimer told ABC News.” We found this valley that looked almost identical to…[where] the real mission took place. And then when our real soldiers showed up, the men [the actors] are portraying, they … and they couldn’t believe how real everything looked. They thought they were back in Afghanistan.”
The movie, which also stars Michael Pena, Rob Riggle, and Trevante Rhodes, is now in theaters.
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