Twelve Monkeys (1995) 4.29/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 78.9
Genre: Science Fiction
Duration: 129 mins
Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt

Bruce Willis stars as a prisoner sent back in time from a post-apocalyptic world to help future scientists learn the secrets of a virus that wiped out five billion people in the late 20th century. There are few directors as suited to depicting the unfathomable qualities of dystopian futures as Terry Gilliam is. As he did in the masterful Brazil, Gilliam presents us with a world which, unlike the spartan imagination-deprived Hollywood notions of the future, is just plain inaccessible. Yet, so visually creative is it, that despite this inaccessibility we stay connected. That’s film-making! Thankfully, for the sake of being able to fully engage with the film, most of the story plays out in the present tense when Willis’ slightly deranged character and the psychiatrist who is inevitably charged with his care (Madeline Stowe) attempt to piece together the clues to what happened in the days before the virus’ release.

Willis is terrific and this must surely go down as one of his better roles and performances. He’s exactly what a fish out of water (scarred by the trauma of his horrific world) should be – naive, innocent, violent, immature, and unhinged. Stowe is excellent also as his slightly incredulous caretaker while Brad Pitt is on hand to slightly over-egg the pudding as the crazy inmate of the asylum which Willis initially finds himself in. David Webb Peoples (Blade Runner, Unforgiven) and Janet Peoples’ script is a delight and while helping to set the darker tones is also balanced out with some neatly written humour. Ultimately, Twelve Monkeys became one of the most striking, creative, and original films to emerge in the 90′s. It’s a tour de force for Gilliam and Willis and it will stay with you for a long time.

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