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12 Monkeys (Twelve Monkeys) (1995)

  Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jon Seda, Madeleine Stowe, Bruce Willis
Links: 12 Monkeys on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 10.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

12 Monkeys (Twelve Monkeys) (1995) is also mentioned in pearly's review of 28 Days Later (2002), em_fiction's review of Fight Club (1999), pearly's review of Fight Club (1999), andy-j's review of Minority Report (2002) and mino's review of The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983).

"More than a dozen reasons to love it" - a review by pearly

Bruce Willis plays James Cole, a prisoner who is sent back in time to find information about the mysterious "Army of the 12 Monkeys", a group who let loose a virus which killed billions of people, and forced the survivors to move underground. When he reaches the past, Cole is sent to a mental institution, where his doctor, Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) takes a special interest in him, and another patient named Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) helps him to escape. From here, the three people's lives become strangely intertwined as Cole tries to figure out what is real and what's just in his mind.

With movies that involve the theme of time travel, there's a danger that the script will be written in such a way that the effects of said travel are inconsistent. But when you're watching 12 Monkeys, there do not appear to be any such plot holes. Any grey areas that there might be are masked by the constant question of whether Cole is actually travelling in time, or whether he's just a complete nutter. The character of Jose (Jon Seda) keeps this question alive, and the mystery continues even to the end of the film, where most people will probably have made a decision, even though you can never be sure.

Terry Gilliam is most definitely one of my favourite directors. His attention-to-detail is absolutely phenomenal. One of the most memorable things about this movie is the interrogation scenes where Cole is asked to explain his findings. The whole look of these scenes is very Gilliamesque - they're futuristic, but in a dank and kinda crazy way. You can tell that they've been put together by someone with a design eye.

I also have to mention the scene where the animals are released from the zoo and are roaming around the city's highways - also very memorable. And then, there's the music. The piano accordian theme is brilliant - you'll be humming it for weeks after watching the movie.

The performances in 12 Monkeys help to make this movie such a fantastic experience. Bruce Willis, who had, until this came along, really only done action flicks (with the possible exception of Pulp Fiction (1994)), is given a chance to show his acting skills. This could have been a really, really, bad thing, but he ends up pulling it off - in probably his best role ever. And when Brad Pitt was given the role of the loopy Goines, he was lesser-known, but he absolutely steals the show with his lazy-eyed, finger-wiggling, energetic performance (it's a top example of his ability to take a role further than most would bother with, and shows why he was able to become as successful as he has).

Edited in such a way that the timeline is all out of whack, quite obviously painstakingly structured and carried through, these labours make 12 Monkeys a very enthralling watch. The many layers going on make it the kind of film that can be watched multiple times, and the kind of film that I personally am bound to love (it's all about the detail, man!). And, I do. A masterpiece.

pearly gives this movie 10 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 28 Nov 2002

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Reader comments

  1. i loved that movie!!! especially brad playing the insane guy role...Bravo!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Charlie on Mon 28 Feb 2005 21:59 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (1 rating)

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