12 MONKEYS

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JULY 15, 2012

After “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” before “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Terry Gilliam directed the science fiction feature “12 Monkeys,” starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. Set in the apocalyptic future in the wake of a virus that forces the world’s population to move underground, Bruce Willis’ character, James Cole, is sent into the past to find out about the virus.

On his first visit, Cole winds up in a mental institution, where he meets animal activist/extremist Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt). Pitt delivers some of the most memorable moments while in the mental institution, with his crazy-person haircut and dialogue like, “You dumbasses. I’m a mental patient. I’m supposed to act out!”

Bruce Willis is the perfect actor for the role of Cole, with the look to fit the small action portions of the film while remaining internalized for the remainder of his position, a skill that Willis has honed throughout his career. Playing well off of supporting character Pitt (who earned an Oscar nomination for this performance), the pair sell this film by itself. Add in Christopher Plummer and David Morse, and the cast turns out quite ingenious.

Along the lines of a grungy futuristic thriller like “Blade Runner,” where even the viewer feels like taking a shower following the film’s conclusion, “12 Monkeys” delivers great and grimy set pieces, along with a unique plot containing some genuinely well-placed twists and revelations. Gilliam is an erratic director with a distinct style, borrowing from directors like Stanley Kubrick and the angle choices of “Dr. Strangelove,” as well as Ridley Scott and his baby, “Blade Runner.” However, it would have been more interesting to see a take on “12 Monkeys” done by a different director, one more inept to handle a science fiction piece such as this.

RELEASE DATE
December 29, 1995

DIRECTOR
Terry Gilliam

WRITTEN BY
David Peoples
Janet Peoples

BASED ON
“La Jetée”
by Chris Marker

STUDIO
Universal Pictures

R
(for violence and language)

MYSTERY
SCI-FI
THRILLER

129 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Roger Pratt

COMPOSER
Paul Buckmaster

EDITOR
Mick Audsley

CAST
Bruce Willis
Madeleine Stowe
Brad Pitt
Christopher Plummer
David Morse
Christopher Meloni
Jon Seda
Lisa Gay Hamilton

PRODUCED BY
Charles Roven

BUDGET
$29.5 million

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