12 Monkeys

"Very Good"

12 Monkeys Review


Avant-garde director Terry Gilliam, absent from the screen since 1991's The Fisher King, has at last returned. The turn of 1996 brings us 12 Monkeys, Gilliam's holocaust/time travel picture about a man, his psychiatrist, and a fiendish plot to decimate the human race...I think. Gilliam is a visual mastermind, but as far as putting together a cohesive, accessible film, he's coming up a little short.

Over the 130-minute running time, a few facts about the plot emerge. You're advised to enter the theater as well-armed with information as possible. He's the lowdown: Bruce Willis is James Cole, a prisoner in the year 2035, when 99 percent of humankind has been eradicated thanks to a virus propagated in 1997. Neo-urban myth traces this virus to a radical group known as the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

Living underground to escape the deadly surface air, science has somehow progressed to make time travel a possibility, just not a very accurate one. Cole is "volunteered" to be a guinea pig, and after scouting the frozen surface in that clear bubble suit you've seen on TV, he is sent back to 1996 to find a non-mutated sample of the virus from which a cure can be made in 2035.

That's the plan, anyway. Turns out, the scientists miss, sending Cole to 1990, when he is quickly captured and put in a mental hospital, hooking up with the maniac Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) and psychiatrist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). At first, Goines appears to be a harmless wacko, but his involvement in the 12 Monkeys soon becomes suspect. Railly, of course, patiently dismisses Cole's stories as delusion, only to find the evidence continually mounting on his side.

Cole bounces through no fewer than three time jumps plus a recurring flashback to his youth, interspersed with several trips back home to 2035. If you can follow all of this, you're doing well. Actually putting the pieces together takes a lot more work, and to really be satisfied with this film you're expected to do it.

Many people will probably leave 12 Monkeys perplexed, but Gilliam devotees won't want to miss this movie, nor will fans of any of the principal actors. Pitt also deserves special recognition (and has already garnered a Golden Globe nod) for his enigmatic prophet of doom.

And despite my beef with the interminable convolutions of 12 Monkeys, the film has one major thing going for it: put simply, it's very, very cool. Gilliam's nightmarish underground world is comparable in grandeur to the one he created in his masterpiece, Brazil, and it also reminds us of screenwriter David Peoples's Blade Runner. The time travel element updates these classics, mainly through showing us the constructs of the present--mental hospitals, tenements, crack houses--and soberly reminding us that "the distant future" may not be too far off.

Aka Twelve Monkeys.

Madness and mayhem!



12 Monkeys

Facts and Figures

Run time: 42 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th January 2015

Box Office Worldwide: $168.8M

Budget: $29.5M

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Atlas Entertainment, Classico

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as James Cole, as Dr. Kathryn Railly, as Jeffrey Goines, as Dr. Goines, as Dr. Peters, as Jose, as Dr. Fletcher, Joseph Melito as young Cole, Aaron Michael Lacey as WWI Sergeant, as Lt. Halperin, Joey Perillo as Det. Franki, LisaGay Hamilton as Teddy, as Bee, as woman cabbie

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