A weird title, for a weird movie.
In the year 2035, convict James Cole (Bruce Willis) volunteers reluctantly to be sent back in time by scientists to discover the origin of a deadly virus that wiped out nearly all of the earth’s population decades earlier. But when Cole is sent mistakenly to 1990 instead of 1996, he’s arrested and locked up in a mental hospital, where he meets a psychiatrist (Madeleine Stowe) and the son (Brad Pitt) of a famous virus expert (Christopher Plummer).
The film is directed by Terry Gilliam who is basically known for making these kooky, mind-bending sci-fi thrillers. It may be a bit different from his others, but features the same craziness you would expect.
There are many good elements to this film. First of all the tone of this movie is very dark and cold. Almost everything that has to do with this world is just terrible, and uninterruptedly horrific. You get a real sense of how the world feels at this time before this huge apocalypse, but even the good things that happen, feel dark themselves. The poignant moments that happen by the end of the film are actually touching, and a lot more effective than you would imagine from this depressing future.
As usual with all Gilliam films, the film looks really cool. The set pieces of his future is different and a lot more zanier. Also, the setting of low-life Philadelphia(my hometown thank you very much) is gritty and unpleasant just like you would imagine the world to be on its last couple of days alive.
The problem I had with this film was that I don’t think Gilliam got all of his ideas out. The themes of being your own enemy, and lost inside a world of madness, didn’t come out too well, mostly because all this seemed knocked down by its jumbled plot and crazy set pieces. Many times throughout this film I was confused of what was actually going on and why this happened for a reason. Also my main question is if scientists have found time travel why can’t they find a cure on their own? It’s just a thought, take it or leave it.
Willis is very good in this role but is a lot more toned down then you would expect him to be in such a role, and although its not his best, it is still a very good one. But the real star here is Pitt who takes this mentally crazy guy, and brings him into the film unexpectedly with plenty of humor within his character. He’s funny, crazy, and overall very realistic in his portrayal of total nut-jobs. Also, Stowe and Willis do have a lot of good chemistry in their scenes and all feels real.
Consensus: 12 Monkeys’ plot is jumbled around with many themes getting over-ridden, but features a dark, but also effective look at the future, with wonderful set pieces, and great performances from its cast.