Twelve Monkeys Review
James Cole (Bruce Willis) is a convicted felon living in an underground prison. Why is this prison underground you ask? Well, in 1997 a plague wiped out 5 billion people on earth and the survivors had to flee underground in order to live. This is the premise of Terry Gilliam's outstanding science fiction thriller.
In order to understand the virus and find a cure, the ruling council of the underground send James back in time to find out who created the virus and get samples so they can create an antidote for the future. Also, at the time of the virus there was graffiti everywhere telling you about the army of the Twelve Monkeys. Cole must locate these individuals and find out what they mean to the destruction of mankind. In an unusual twist, the past has happened and cannot be changed meaning any heroics or attempting to change history are not going to work here. If Cole is successful in his mission he will get a full pardon. Unfortunately, when he goes back in time they send him 7 years too early and he winds up in a mental hospital. At that hospital is Jeffrey (Brad Pitt) who isn't quite as mad as he seems and will play a big part in events to come.
Willis is truly outstanding in the tortured role of Cole. You are totally sympathetic to his plight, as he has this terrible secret and there is nothing he can do about it. Madeline Stowe plays Dr Katherine Railly, the psychiatrist at the hospital who is intrigued by Cole's ramblings. She also has a massive part to play in future events but is obviously unaware of this. Stowe, once again proves that she is talented and a vastly under rated actress. Brad Pitt in his Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning role as Jeffrey is simply hilarious in the hospital scenes and truly quite chilling in the film's final act. Indeed he was fully deserving of his nomination, but I feel that the Academy definitely overlooked Willis and Stowe in their roles. The three main actors are supported by a varied and seasoned cast including Christopher Plummer and the late Frank Gorshin.
12 Monkeys is one of those films that grabs at the start of the film and keeps you alert until the closing moments. With Gilliam's inspired direction and David and Janet Peoples' brilliantly written screenplay you are immersed in a fantastic cinematic achievement that will stand the test of time. I am sure in years to come, 12 Monkeys will be mentioned in the same breath as Ridley Scott's Alien and Stanley Kubrick's 2001. It is an intelligent science fiction drama with brilliant production design and beautiful cinematography which superbly complements the directorial and writing achievements. In fact let's cut to the chase, it's been a long nine years since I saw the film at the time of its cinema release. Why I haven't got it in my own collection is a real mystery, because I really forgot what a great film it is. Now I have it, it can stand proudly in the Science Fiction section of my collection.