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12 Angry Men (1997)

  Directed by: William Friedkin
Written by: Reginald Rose
Starring: Hume Cronyn, Tony Danza, Ossie Davis, James Gandolfini, Dorian Harewood, Jack Lemmon, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Edward James Olmos, William L. Petersen, George C. Scott, Courtney B. Vance, Mykelti Williamson
Links: 12 Angry Men on the IMDb, Buy on Video
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Keep it simple, stupid" - a review by pearly

Say what you like about action movies, about how thrilling they are and how great the special effects are. The fact still remains that a character-driven film with interesting dialogue and things that keep your brain working will always win out for me. And this is just what 12 Angry Men is.

The film in question in this instance is actually a remake of 12 Angry Men (1957), which I have actually (perhaps foolishly) never seen. Both screenplays were written by Reginald Rose, and I can't imagine them being too different.

Set almost entirely in a single room, 12 Angry Men is about 12 jurors and their deliberation process on a murder trial. Initially, 11 of the jurors decide that the accused is guilty, while one (Jack Lemmon) has not yet made up his mind, and wishes to go through it some more with his fellow jurors. As the film progresses, and the men go through the facts repeatedly, both the audience and the jurors begin to realise that there is a lot more to the case, and each have to reassess their idea of reasonable doubt.

12 Angry Men is a brilliant example of a simple idea being well executed to produce a great result. It is cleverly written and well acted, and has you intrigued to the last minute.

Lots of the actors in this film are, watching from a 2003 perspective, recognisable from something they have done either before or since. Armin Mueller-Stahl had recently played Geoffrey Rush's character's father in Shine (1996): in this he plays a more likeable character, but not by much. James Gandolfini has since gone on to play Tony Soprano in the television series The Sopranos: he doesn't have a particularly prominent part in this, and doesn't do much with the role he has. Tony Danza was already well known for his part in the TV series Who's The Boss?: he was actually pretty decent in his role. William L. Petersen has gone on to play Grissom, the boss in C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation: it was interesting seeing him play someone relatively illogical after knowing him as the methodical and factual Grissom. But the standout performance was definitely Lemmon's, his wise demeanour suited the character perfectly, and the logic and cleverness his character displayed won me over straight away.

To hold interest, there's no need to over-complicate things and to have too many bells and whistles. 12 Angry Men is testament to this, and is a very satisfying watch. Now to find myself a copy of the original for comparison...

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 5 Dec 2003

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Reader comments

  1. I thought the movie as great. I enjoyed the strong characterisation of juror eight, I liked this strong character.

    Rating given: 7

    A comment from Alibee on Tue 27 Jan 2004 13:56 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 7.00 (1 rating)

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