Sunday, September 26, 2010

Short Review: 12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995)

This is Terry Gilliam's best work next to Brazil (1985). 12 Monkeys is an intriguing post-apocalyptic mystery that sees James Cole (Bruce Willis) sent from the year 2035 into the past to collect evidence of the origins of a virus outbreak that all but ended the world's human population, who are forced to live in underground colonies. His mission is to collect a pure sample so that a cure can be developed. Having first been sent back to 1990, six years before the believed release of the virus, Cole is arrested and quarantined, finally meeting and befriending Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) in a psychiatric hospital. Goines has outspoken anti-consumerist politics and is the inevitable leader of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, the terrorist organization believed to have released the virus. Cole is under the care of and draws sympathy from Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), who he abducts once he is returned to the past for the second time, this time in 1996. After initially diagnosing him as crazy, Railly discovers that Cole is in fact telling the truth about the release of the virus and decides to aid him in his quest. They become the subject of a police hunt, as they scramble to stop the release of the virus at an airport. Battling the dual dimensions, Cole begins to question his sanity, the importance of his mission and what he perceives as his reality. The plot is often frustratingly complex and doesn't all collate concisely by the thrilling conclusion, but true to all Gilliam's work, it is witty, visually vibrant and stimulating and always engaging. Willis and Pitt give excellent performances and this is one of the better science-fiction releases of the 1990's.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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