Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Bruce Willis
IMDb Rating: 8.1
My Rating: 8
"There's no right. There's no wrong. There's only popular opinion."
The year is 2035. James Cole is an imprisoned convict who volunteers to go back in time to the year 1996 to gather information on a virus that wipes out five billion people. An error occurs and Cole is actually sent to 1990, six years prior to the virus' release. He is immediately locked up in a mental institution. Here he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist who seems to be the only person who might listen to him. He also meets Jeffery Goines, a patient who is the son of a famous scientist.
What's so great about (insert name)?
Terry Gilliam's dark and often obscure style lends it's self perfectly to the virus ridden, post-apocalyptic" world. Due to this, 12 Monkeys has a rather realistic feel to it. Although time travel does not exist, all the gadgets from Gilliam's view of 2035 feel rather authentic. Also, most of the performances are excellent. The exceptional standout here is Brad Pitt as the clinically insane Jeffery Goines. His performance starts out to be rather humorous, but takes a dark turn by the film's conclusion.
Anything not so great?
It doesn't happen all off the time, but some of the time jumps are a little confusing. There are moments where you are not exactly sure if you are in 1990 or 1996. The few scenes in 2035 are simple to discern from the 90's scenes.
Jeffery showing Cole around the mental hospital might not seem like that relevant of a scene in the film. Although, I really feel it helped establish two of our main characters personalities.
Does 12 Monkeys belong in the 250?
It's is definitely one of the best science fiction films to come out of the 1990's, so I can understand why it's included in the list. I would put it in the two hundred and fifty films I have seen, but not as high as it is on this list.
There is a story that before production began, Terry Gilliam gave Bruce Willis a list entitled "Things Bruce Willis Does When He Acts" with the footnote of the list saying, " please don't do any of the above in my movie." I wonder why they never made another film together?
As stated in my previous post on Gilliam's film Brazil, other than the Monty Python's films, I don't particularly care for him as a director. 12 Monkeys is the main exception to that rule. It's pretty obvious that Gilliam did not write the script for this film, as it doesn't have any holes and doesn't confuse the dickens out of you. I think this film is an exceptional piece of fiction and Gilliam's style lends perfectly to the well structured story.