The 12th Man takes place in 1943 during World War II, at a time when Hitler had established “Festung Norwegen” (Fortress Norway), aka building heavy defences and fortification as they occupied Norway, thus Operation Martin Red was launched on March 24th, where twelve Norwegian Resistance fighters set sail for Norway.
Given the circumstances which are shown in the first few minutes, only one man – Jan Baalsrud (Thomas Gullestad, above) – will escape when they’re caught and, surprisingly, this is based on a true story.
Initially, there’s not too much dialogue as it’s one man on the run from the Germans, so he’s not going to want to shout about it, but in what follows, it uxtaposes his attempts to flee in the direction of Tromsø – albeit not specifically for the Northern Lights, alongside the Nazis trying to extricate information from the other eleven they captured as to the whereabouts of Jan.
As I started watching this, it was great to see the number of people who are helping him (despite the fact that if you’re found to have harboured a fugitive, the penalty is death), and that no matter what is thrown at him, he keeps coming back like the Terminator… or the Duracell bunny.
Giving us Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers (above) as the lead German, Kurt Stage, is interesting casting and he certainly does very well to convince in the role.
This film is not for the faint-hearted, though, as there’s elements in this which I thought would be sure to give it an 18-cert, such as that involving severe gangrene on one man’s foot and how they deal with that, so I expect it still was allowed a 15-cert because it’s based on a true story.
However, despite this and that The 12th Man has a great premise, but as you see him just go from A to B, and then to C, and then D, and so on – with the Germans always one step behind, it just becomes less and less interesting until around an hour in when the constant changeover calms down and he spends more time with Gudrun Grønvoll (Marie Blokhus) and Marius Grønvoll (Mads Sjøgård Pettersen), at which point it starts to have more structure.
In addition, you know he’ll survive because it starts with him at the end of his journey, so I get that the film is *about* that journey and less about wondering if he’ll make it.
Running time: 135 minutes
Studio: Signature Entertainment
Director: Harald Zwart
Producers: Aage Aaberge, Espen Horn, Harald Zwart, Veslemøy Ruud Zwart
Screenplay: Petter Skavlan (as Alex Boe)
Music: Christophe Beck
Jan Baalsrud: Thomas Gullestad
Kurt Stage: Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Gudrun Grønvoll: Marie Blokhus
Marius Grønvoll: Mads Sjøgård Pettersen
Sigurd Eskeland: Vegar Hoel
Erik Reichelt: Håkon T Nielsen
Per Blindheim: Eirik Risholm Velle
Gabriel Salvesen: Daniel Frikstad
Bjørn Norman Bolstad: Eric Dirnes
Sjur Ludvigsen Trovåg: Alexander Zwart
Sverre Odd Kverhellen: Torgny Gerhard Aanderaa
Harald Peter Ratvik: Håkon Smeby
Frithjof Meyer Haugland: Axel Barø Aasen
Magnus Johan Kvalvik: Ole Victor Corral
Nils ‘Nigo’ Nilsen: Kim Jøran Olsen
Amandus Lillevold: Åsgeir Johansen
Walter Wenders: Martin Kiefer
Sig. Fredriksen: David Vekony
Adam Schmitt: Erich Redman
Peder Isaksen: JI Falck
Alfon Hansen: Martin Eliassen
Commander Crawley: Harry Van Gorkum
Agnete Lanes: Mathilde Sofie Henriksen
Anna Pedersen: Maria Grazia Di Meo
Hanna Pedersen: Julia Bache-Wiig
Ingvald Pedersen: Sigurd Kornelius Lakseide
Alfred A. Vik: Kenneth Åkerland Berg
Dina Pedersen: Zoe Winter-Hansen
Olaug Idrupsen: Frida Mathea Sørbøe
Jakoba Jensen: Ragna Schwenke
Margareth Hansen: Tiril Holthe Harnang
Morten Hansen: Marius Lien
Ragnhild Hansen: Aggie Peterson
Einar Sørensen: Bjørn Bernt
German soldier: Magnus Dugdale
Peder Nilsen: Jardar Johnsen
Alfred Lockertsen: Kristoffer Jørgensen
Aslak Fossvoll: Trond Peter Stamsø Munch
Alvin Larsen: Robin Olsen
Askal Baal: Petter Johanas Lukkari
Per Thomas Baal: Aslak Mahtte Turi Gaup
Håkon Sørensen: Nikolas Steffensen Krane
Ottar Pedersen: Sigurd Heine Krogh
Nils Brustrøm: Alexander Os
Olav Lanes: Ådne August Robertsen
German Soldier: Jørn Magnus Karlsen
German Pilot: Kjartan Rumsfeld
German Officer #2: Sondre Stangnes
Eldre Same: Nils Utsi
Norwegian Lieutenant: Petter Holmsen
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.