12 Strong–The Horse Soldiers Movie

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Based on the best-selling book Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton, 12 Strong is the true story of the first US Army Special Forces team to go into Afghanistan to hunt down Taliban and al-Qaeda after the 9/11 terrorist attack that brought down the Twin Towers.

 

 

In this dramatization, twelve Green Berets—Task Force Dagger—are ordered to team up with Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum of the Northern Alliance in the mountains of Afghanistan to open the way through hostile, mountainous territory to Mazur-i-Sharif.

Once the team arrives and makes contact, they find they must proceed on horseback. Oh, yeah . . . And they only have three weeks to do it. Real life team leader Captain Mitch Nelson pretty well sums it up in his famous response to an impatient senior officer awaiting a report: “I am advising a man on how to best employ light infantry and horse cavalry in the attack against Taliban T-55s [tanks], mortars, artillery, personnel carriers and machine guns — a tactic which I think became outdated with the invention of the Gatling gun.”

A Jerry Bruckheimer production, 12 Strong was filmed in New Mexico in and around Albuquerque as well as in caves south of Alamogordo and on White Sands Missile Range. Chris Hemsworth does a great job as Capt. Mitch Nelson, and he’s backed up with excellent performances from Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes, and Navid Negahban, who play Sam Diller, Ben Milo, and General Dostum, respectively. Both the armaments and the social challenges the team met with in the course of their mission are faithfully portrayed. And speaking of those armaments . . . bring earplugs. LOTS of explosions.

12 Strong is an excellent representation of what US Army Special Forces concentrate on and do best.

As the film accurately portrays, Task Force Dagger did a great job of quickly inserting into a hostile area, meeting up with indigenous forces, and gaining their trust enough to work together to influence the strategic situation in Afghanistan. Such missions are the bread and butter of the US Army Special Forces.

We would only make one critique of the film’s portrayal of Task Force Dagger.

The movie shows these Green Berets being a bit out of their element with the primitive conditions they found in Afghanistan. In real life, US Army Special Forces are always careful to never, ever appear to be surprised by anything or challenged by any environment, whether that environment is geographic, climatic, cultural, or tactical domain. They will be careful to appear to be absolute masters of whatever domain they inhabit. In other words, they would smile and play poker with Satan and pretend to enjoy the warm weather if they found themselves on a mission in Hell.

Unlike many war movies, 12 Strong addresses the impact war has on the warriors’ families.

Families also suffer and sacrifice. According to Holmes, the hardest thing in the life of a warrior with a family is how their children pay a cost that was not of their choosing. It’s hard for them to wake up and find out that dad left at 3:00 a.m. Eventually, the kids figure out dad isn’t on a beach in Maui, and it leads to the unavoidable fact that families bleed, too, in their own way.

As usual with any movie about military success or heroism on the battlefield, some reviewers who clearly have no experience whatsoever with any battle beyond fighting with their lovers for control of the remote dismiss this movie as “flag waving.” We completely disagree. 12 Strong does a great job of recounting the true story of a handful of brave men who got shit done.

While we would love to give 12 Strong our highest rating, a .44 Magnum*, for sentimental reasons, we must give it our second highest rating, a .357 Magnum.

That’s because even though it is a solid war movie with excellent production and acting, it is not particularly life-altering. That being said, it is, indeed, a solid war movie with excellent production and acting, and, therefore, worth seeing. We recommend this movie to those who are prepared for a realistic combat movie with one caveat—don’t take the kids. This is not a movie for children.

 

 

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Bayard & Holmes Movie Ratings

  • Dud Chinese-manufactured ammo: Stay home and do housework. You’ll have more fun.

  • .22 rim fire:  Not worth the big screen, but ok to rent.

  • .380: Go to the matinee if someone else is paying.

  • .38 Special: Worth paying for the matinee yourself.

  • .357 Magnum: Okay to upgrade to prime time if you can stand the crowd.

  • .44 Magnum: Must see this. Life-altering event.

Spy Truth & Fiction — The Equalizer Gets Some Things Right

By Piper Bayard

The Equalizer is a thriller film by Antoine Fuqua in which an ex-CIA operative must defeat the Russian mob to save his friend. Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a widower who has left his former life of intelligence fieldwork. He keeps a simple life as a supervisor at Home Mart in Boston. Each night, his insomnia drives him to a corner diner with a classic book, where he chats with Alina (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young prostitute who is pimped out by the Russian mob. When Alina is brutally beaten and hospitalized by the Russians, McCall determines he will prevent her keepers from ever hurting her again. His decision triggers a series of events that lead to Moscow and to one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs.

 

The Equalizer Movie Poster

The Equalizer Movie Poster

 

Though this movie is not intended to be a documentary, it gets several Truth & Fiction aspects right.

One: Robert McCall is a former CIA operative.

Intelligence operatives get to resign or retire if they want to. There is a grand myth in some spy fiction that intelligence organizations are like the mafia—that once you’re in, there’s only one way to leave, as in to die. Unlike James Bond, who will outlive all other intelligence operatives on the planet, CIA operatives, active or past, actually do eventually all die of the same causes that afflict the rest of the human population. However, the Company does not put out a hit on operatives who decides to strike out in other directions, regardless of how many secrets they may know.

Two: Robert McCall is a man who wears jeans and plain button up shirts.

While some former intelligence operatives might wear leather clothing and ride motorcycles, it is not required. In fact, most people who are confident that they can kill you with their pinkies prefer to appear as innocuous as possible. Life is just more comfortable for everyone that way.

 

Robert McCall, a.k.a. The Equalizer Image from The Equalizer

Robert McCall, a.k.a. The Equalizer
Image from The Equalizer

 

Three: Robert McCall works as a supervisor at “Home Mart.”

Except for congressmen, no one gets rich by working for the government. That includes intelligence operatives. As a result, when they leave, most of them must find other gainful employment, and that might be anything from selling used cars to teaching high school to assisting people with their lumber purchases at a home improvement store.

Four: Robert McCall does not rely entirely on firearms to kill the bad guys.

One of the best parts of this movie is the creative way McCall kills off his opponents. A large showdown takes place inside a home improvement center. While our hero unrealistically passes on the obvious opportunity to pick up a few heavy firearms from the skumbags he kills, his creativity in killing with common store items is worth the price of admission. Through the entire movie, he lays out approximately two dozen bad guys, but he only shoots one of them with a firearm.

 

Robert McCall and Alina Image from The Equalizer

Robert McCall and Alina
Image from The Equalizer

 

Five:  Robert McCall is in control.

Operatives certainly have their bad days, and sometimes they end up in situations that are beyond their control. But, as Holmes says, “If you’re in a fair fight, you’re using poor tactics.” In every situation, our hero in The Equalizer has the upper hand.

It’s worth noting that this control is actually a negative when it comes to sustaining tension. At no time is the viewer genuinely worried that McCall won’t survive an encounter in order to collect his paycheck and do another movie. However, he is so creative in how he maintains control that this doesn’t sink the film.

Six:  Robert McCall dedicates himself to his chosen mission simply because he believes it is the right thing to do.

As a general rule, American intelligence operatives are an idealistic lot who devote themselves to their professions because they want to make the world a better place for innocent people to reside. No one does it for the money.

 

Robert McCall, a.k.a. The Equalizer Image from The Equalizer

Robert McCall, a.k.a. The Equalizer
Image from The Equalizer

 

 Seven:  The evil kingpin behaves like an evil kingpin when cornered.

The Russian mobster at the top of the international crime food chain is aptly named Vladimir Pushkin. (All similarities to any living Russian oligarch are, no doubt, purely coincidental.) We see very little of Putin Pushkin, but where we do see him, he is behaving realistically, exhibiting disbelief that anyone would actually kill him, combined with the confidence that he can buy his way out of the situation.

 

Overall, The Equalizer is a thoroughly enjoyable movie that impressed me with its creativity. Denzel Washington is excellent in his role as the man people turn to when they have nowhere else to go. Chloë Grace Moretz does a great job breaking out of her Kick Ass role to show a bit more diversity. And of course, who doesn’t want to see a Russian mobster named Vladimir Pushkin get what’s coming to him? If you enjoy thrillers and justice movies, you will likely enjoy this one.

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We are pleased to announce that our first Bayard & Holmes spy thriller novella, THE SPY BRIDE, will be released in the RISKY BRIDES bestsellers’ collection on October 21 from Magnolia Press.

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Front Cover via Hightail

Breaking Badly

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Breaking Bad—five seasons of weekly opportunities for the average, law-abiding citizen to ride in the fast lane with chemistry teacher/family man/meth dealer Walter White has finally come to an end. The Albuquerque Journal even ran Walter White’s obituary, and Vernon’s Hidden Valley Steakhouse is giving Walter White a funeral in Albuquerque this Saturday, October 19.

Breaking Bad

As Holmes and I look around, we find that we are surrounded by Breaking Bad fans in various stages of the Kubler-Ross grief process . . .

Denial – No. This can’t be happening . . . Oh, wait! I can still watch the first 54 episodes on Netflix. Maybe the movie will be out by the time I’m finished.

Anger – What do you mean there’s no more Breaking Bad? How can they do this to me? *gives collection of Walter White action figures and Breaking Bad Chemistry Set to neighbor and says never wants to see them again*

Bargaining – Let’s kidnap Vince Gilligan like in Misery and tell him he can’t have his freedom until he comes up with five more seasons. *slips in through neighbor’s window to steal back action figures and chemistry set; finds out neighbor sold them to buy weed.*

Depression – Dear God, why live? *curls up in fetal position around TV remote*

Acceptance – It’s real. It’s happening. Breaking Bad is over. I must find healthy ways to fill the void and move on. *pays $2,000 to have name engraved on Walter White’s memorial tombstone at Vernon’s Hidden Valley Steakhouse*

Fear not, Breaking Bad fans! Here at Bayard & Holmes, we see your suffering, and we stand ready to help. We have the following suggestions to assist you moving beyond Walter White’s world to begin to live again:

  • Buy our books and obsess over them, instead.
  • Develop a taste for brandy.
  • Set up a telescope in your window and get to know your neighbors.
image from Rear Window

image from Rear Window

  • Stop playing with your household chemicals and donate your gas mask to a local Alcohol Recovery Center thrift store.
  • List all of the blue items you see in your house that have nothing to do with meth.
  • Use Google and find out who the real Heisenberg was.
  • Buy out the Funyons from your local grocery store and throw a party for your friends.
  • Attempt to technically define the word “yo.”

For those of you who simply aren’t ready for closure, for the mere sum of $1999—a real deal next to that tombstone engraving—you can secure your seat on the Breaking Bad Albuquerque Meth Tour.* Enjoy three days of sightseeing while being escorted by hardened ex-cons and “criminal” attorneys through the seediest corners of Albuquerque. Tour activities will include Nerf gun combat in the New Mexico desert and stops in chicken restaurants and law enforcement outposts where people really are selling meth out of the back room. To complete our tour, vacationers will receive one free trip to the University of New Mexico Hospital emergency room where they can see and talk to actual meth heads in their natural migratory habitat while waiting for treatment.

Call now and be one of our first ten customers, who will each receive an autographed photo from a random local high school chemistry professor. Let Bayard & Holmes give you the assistance you need to break out of your fast lane fantasies. Operators standing by.

*Airfare, accommodations, meals, and transportation not included in price of package; however, each vacationer will receive one complimentary piece of fake meth candy made of sugar on a stick and the number to the Drug Abuse Hotline in the state of their choosing.

Where are you at in your Breaking Bad grief cycle?

Miley Cyrus to Lead US Attack on Iran

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

Miley Cyrus proved herself above and beyond the call of duty as she completed the final phase of her CIA training at the Video Music Awards. After schooling with veteran Bangkok hookers, her task was to utterly befuddle the entire audience and perform moves that would make even a Congressman blush and would have gotten her arrested had she done them on a busy sidewalk rather than an awards stage. Outstanding job, Miley!

Prior to the show, an unnamed Pentagon insider alerted Bayard & Holmes to startling information about an imminent US attack on Iran. Our informant told us that the Pentagon prefers to keep its strategies Top Secret until the operation is well underway. The Obama administration is concerned about how the UN will respond to the first use of a Weapon of Mass Revulsion.

Test subject forced to watch VMA/CIA training performance

Test subject forced to watch VMA/CIA training performance

However, in one of the few secret documents not yet leaked to The Guardian in the UK, Bayard & Holmes uncovered the details of this unprecedented military operation. It is not normally our habit to leak sensitive information, but between Miley’s performance and PRISM, there’s nothing left to hide anyway, so why not?

The following is a quote from our Pentagon insider contact explaining this revolutionary new approach to modern warfare:

“We’ve learned our lessons from both wars in Iraq. In those wars, we called upon the US Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force pilots to deliver carefully timed air attacks in conjunction with barrages of heavy missiles. They did achieve their goals. They were in fact able to cripple the Iraqi leadership. But at what cost?

“Beyond the billions spent on the munitions, the ships, and the aircraft to deliver those attacks—beyond the risked lives of so many pilots and crewmen—we’ve spent billions of dollars trying to rebuild Iraq.  At the time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the US would employ Shock and Awe in the war. We simply didn’t understand that “Shock and Awe,” was referring to the impact on the US budget. War with Iran seems imminent, and we don’t want to make the same mistakes.

“Thanks to the CIA and its pioneering methods, we now know we can count on the brave young American Miley Cyrus to lead us in the lower budget Shock and Awe operation known as Shock and Disgust. We don’t want to reveal too many details of the pending operation, but we’re confident that a live performance by Miley will paralyze the minds of the Iranian leadership and military, leaving them in a state of horror and permitting our forces to rapidly and forcefully penetrate Iran’s most closely guarded assets.

“The plan is to recruit Miley impersonators, dress them in Victoria’s Secret seconds and white tennis shoes, and drop them into Iran’s most sensitive areas in the first wave of a parachute assault. The Pentagon says that it will need as many as 120 Mobile Miley Units to achieve complete stupefaction of the entire Iranian population to allow for repeated easy entrances and withdrawals. The challenge now is to find enough young American women with the patriotic fervor necessary to make them willing to debase themselves so thoroughly by impersonating Miley Cyrus.”

Estimated result of Mobile Miley Unit insertion

Estimated result of Mobile Miley Unit insertion

At first we were skeptical that our government would do something so radical, but when the Pentagon’s Public Affairs Office categorically denied any official association with Miley Cyrus, they convinced us that this operation will indeed come to fruition. We also queried the UK Ministry of Defense, and their spokesman, Nigel Quagmire, confirmed the existence of Shock and Disgust by saying, “The United Kingdom has not at any time taken part in the development or deployment of Mobile Miley Units or any other Weapon of Mass Revulsion and has no plans of doing so.” But what can you expect from the same people who deny UFOs?

Remember when you don’t see this on CNN, you heard it here first!

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe

 Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe Sandwich. Yes, It’s Real.

Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe Chicken Charlie's

This is what happens when we no longer have Twinkies to fry.

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

Stacy Green is hosting Kassandra Lamb at her site for Thriller Thursday, and Kassandra is asking, Narcissist or Psychopath?

We’ve all been hearing about PRISM this past week–the NSA program that collects all of our electronic data and scrutinizes it without probable cause or warrants. But it’s not just the US. Five countries, the US, UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, are known in the government and intelligence agencies as the “Five Eyes.” The alliances between the intelligence agencies of these five countries effectively allows them to circumvent any prohibitions against spying on their OWN citizens in that they spy on EACH OTHERS’ citizens and share the information on a “massive spy cloud.” PRISM: Concerns Over Government Tyranny are Legitimate by Kim Dotcom at The Guardian.

FIRELANDS Cover

An interview with . . . me! Historical fiction author Susan Spann got me to spill about this month’s dystopian thriller release, FIRELANDS, and forced me to reveal my favorite childhood story. No offense, New Yorkers. An Interview with Piper Bayard!

Heather Konik is holding a contest over at Prawn & Quartered. Submit a question for her site mascot, Murdock from the A-Team, and enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card. New Contest: Interview with the Site Mascot

The fascinating Miss Violet Jessop survived not one, but 3 shipwrecks. The Face That Sunk a Thousand Ships (Well 3, Anyway) by Colin Falconer.

A Cheerios commercial with a bi-racial couple caused quite the stir, generating so many hateful, racist comments that Cheerios had to turn off the comments at YouTube. While that’s disturbing, there have been a couple of great LOL spoofs–the silver lining.

This video shows the original commercial and Deon Cole’s hysterical parody take on it:

And then we have this seam-splitter from Kenji America:

Congratulations to best selling author Kristen Lamb! She just finished her third book about social media, Rise of the Machines, and it’s outstanding. Check out her cover art by Corey Clubb of Go Bold Designs, the same fellow who did the art for Firelands. Change–Resistance is Futile

Rise of the Machines Cover

The Blessings of a Botched Piano Recital, in which Nina Badzin tells about my stage trauma and the lessons we can learn from it.

Father’s Day is this Sunday. Our guest blogger and soon-to-be regular at Social In Worldwide, K.B. Owen, shares Dad’s Secret to Great BBQ Chicken.

And if you’re still wondering about the perfect gift for Dad . . . Look no further! This will at least give him a great belly laugh. When Words Aren’t Enough–Say It With Bacon

Campaign Style Poll Daddy of the Week:

All the best to all of you for a week of tasty treats.

Piper Bayard

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Justin Bieber Duck Tape

Yes. It’s the Biebs. On Duck Tape. Now we can all be Beliebers.

Just trying to picture Justin Bieber’s face holding together my binders, my favorite lawn chair, and my ’92 Ford.

Justin Bieber Duck Tape staples.com

image from staples.com

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order 

Best Selling Author and Social Media Jedi Kristen Lamb has some GREAT advice for authors who blog. Blogging for Authors, and How a Banana Slicer Saved My Marriage

Everyone who donates to charities wants to believe they are helping others in doing so. Shantnu Tiwari explains how that is not always what happens. Charities: Damaging Society and Hurting the Poor, Since 1886

An excellent non-partisan analysis of what the h*** happened to our money from Rolling Stone. Secrets and Lies of the Bailout

Hot Colors Light Up Frozen Sculptures at the Harbin Ice Festival

BREAKING STEELE as Pulp Fiction . . . An excellent review of Ellie Ann’s and Aaron Patterson’s BREAKING STEELE by Glenn Gordon.

Breaking Steele

Once in a Lifetime Shot of Line of Owls All Looking at the Camera

International Best Selling Author Vicki Hinze is an expert at getting things done. Some awesome advice from her on Keeping Those New Year’s Resolutions.

Julie Glover brings us a collection of brief quotes from Leonardo Da Vinci. If Da Vinci Tweeted

Nicole Basaraba makes me once again want to pack my suitcase. 21 Things I Miss About Brussels, Belgium

Edgy and excellent. My Lucky Thunder Thighs via Leanne Shirtliffe.

Yes. Things happen to the best of us. No. This is not me, but it could be. Belly Dancer Fail . . .

All the best to all of you for keeping it taped together this week.

Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse