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12 Monkeys

In 1996, a virus kills five billion people. 'This already happened,' James Cole (Willis) explains to Dr Railly (Stowe) in 1990. He knows because he's been there. Six years and a matter of minutes after he vanishes from a padded cell, Cole is back in his psychiatrist's life. He must trace the contagion, but he needs Railly's help to track down former patient Goines (Pitt), whose environmental action group, the Army of the 12 Monkeys, may be behind the disaster. With its shifts in tone and style signposted by Pitt's buggy loony-toon and Willis's movingly bewildered introvert,

Terry Gilliam

's apocalyptic fantasy is even weirder than it sounds. Less a Terminator-type action pic than a spectacularly disorienting inaction movie, with Cole as a helpless Cassandra hooked on an image from his own past, hoping against hope that he may in fact be crazy...the film's a terrible mess, but a terribly beautiful, tender mess. The screenplay by Janet and David Peoples (Blade Runner, Unforgiven) takes off from Chris Marker's 1962 short, La Jetée, but soon spirals into more pressing millennial obsessions (insanity, chaos and ecological catastrophe), before a vertiginous Hitchcockian make-over in the last reel. Gilliam gives the material a lunatic poetry of his own, but remains impervious to the requirements of narrative pacing.

Release details

Duration: 129 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Terry Gilliam
Screenwriter: Janet Peoples, David Webb Peoples
Cast: Madeleine Stowe
Christopher Plummer
Brad Pitt
Bruce Willis
Joseph Melito
Jon Seda

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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mikeC
1 of 1 found helpful

This movie felt long and at times, insufferable to sit through. I applaud movies that appeal to the audience's intelligence..like Inception for example. However I just found myself twitching irritably in my seat once I lost patience with the treacle-like pacing. This would be a more digestible viewing experience if Gilliam cut out at least half an hour of the more tedious porridgy dialogue moments