January tends to be when the jingoistic films hit theaters. Films about Benghazi, domestic extremist attacks (9/11, Boston Marathon), and the continued war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq have graced the silver screen almost like clockwork, but with each film comes a different version of the same emotional message of bravery and loss. American patriotism overcoming adversity in the face of overwhelming odds.

I have the utmost respect for the men and women whose choices, circumstances, or tragedy befall them, and honestly, I’m always a sucker for these films.

“12 Strong” is the latest in a long line of post-9/11 war biopics. In the vein of “American Sniper,” “Lone Survivor” and “The Hurt Locker,” there is a decidedly addictive quality to the adrenaline that fuels soldiers, and the machismo of combat translates to a riveting visual experience more times than not. This film is no exception.

Chris Hemsworth plays Mitch Nelson, an embellished caricature of an inexperienced captain who leads his team of 12 Green Berets into Afghanistan on horseback, as the first soldiers on the ground after the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

A truly inspiring true story, I found myself wondering just how much was fact and how much was fiction. Perhaps that speaks to the incredible series of events, as it’s billed as Al Qaeda’s biggest loss in the early stages of the war, and although the bravery and trailblazing is spectacular, there’s a nagging sense that I couldn’t shake that the sensationalism and Hollywood flair is a bit overshadowing.

Hemsworth may have been too sexy of a star for the role. He rides on horseback, guns blazing like a 21st Century John Rambo, and I was just waiting for him to rip his shirt off and take on the Taliban with nothing but a bow and arrows, or a big knife.

The explosions are plentiful, and there are scores of black-masked insurgents who are dispatched with precision headshots, as if it were a first-person shooter video game. Air strikes drop massive bombs across valleys of tanks, rocket launchers and machine-gun mounted trucks.

It’s the characters who drive films of this gravity, and there is a noticeable lack of development. There is never the sense of fear or impending doom by the soldiers, and that destroys the realism and emotional mood. Their bravado is more action movie and less biopic, which is entertaining, but also diminishes the return on investment. They follow their captain anywhere, and multiple times he gives the testosterone-fueled speech about how he can’t order them to face certain death, yet they all volunteer eagerly.

Michael Pena, Michael Shannon, and soon-to-be-breakout star Trevante Rhodes (“Moonlight,” this upcoming summer’s “The Predator”) are the supporting soldiers in the field while a bald William Fichtner and a very out of place Rob Riggle play the brass back in the command center. There’s never a sense that any soldier has individual personality, fear, or depth beyond the joke-cracking Pena, or the stone-faced, grizzled veteran Shannon. It’s unfortunate, as the film could have easily provided a bit more backstory for some of the key players. The intent is there in the first act, but it’s a futile exercise.

Nicolai Fuglsig (“Exfil”) directs well, but the marketing effort would be better off as an action film inspired by true events, maybe even fictionalized entirely. The writing team of Ted Tally (“Silence of the Lambs,” “All the Pretty Horses”) and Peter Craig (“The Town,” “Hunger Games: Mockingjay”) could have written a stronger screenplay for the source material, but for action it’s a thrilling ride.

Overall, I was expecting to shed some tears, but found myself feeling like my 10-year-old self watching a Stallone, Chuck Norris, or Schwarzenegger war flick. This was definitely more “Black Hawk Down” and less “American Sniper,” if you get my drift. Not a bad way to spend two hours, but not exactly what I was expecting either.