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Teen Movie Critic

12 Monkeys


Roger Davidson

12 Monkeys
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An excellent film that is an amazingly complex psychological thriller. Directed by ex-Monty Python member, Terry Gilliam (Brazil), the film shows the world of 2035, destroyed by a killer virus that wiped out 5 billion people, leaving the earth's surface to be inhabited by the non-human animals. What's left of the human race has gone underground. The scientists of this time draft a convicted man (Bruce Willis) and send him back in time to 1996, in an attempt to trace the virus' path. 1996 is the year the plague was let loose on the world. They send Willis back all right. However, they miscalculated by a few years and Willis ends up in the year 1990 at a Baltimore mental institution. There he meets a deranged psychotic (Brad Pitt-hilariously overacting), who may or may not be the one who let loose the virus. The only person who is sympathetic to Willis' strange plight is a psychiatrist (Madeleine Stowe).

Willis is sent back and forth between 2035 and 1996, gathering information that might help the human race get back on top again. But Willis is growing more and more disturbed by the time travel, not knowing what is real and what isn't. Terry Gilliam returns to films, after five years, in good form. Like Brazil, the outlook of the future looks bleak. The movie is full of clever plot twists, Gothic landscapes and truly bizarre characters. Willis gives his best performance I've ever seen. He is nothing like his sarcastic Die Hard character in this one. With this character, his emotions range from sensitive and cunning to brutal and dumb. Stowe is equally impressive. Most filmakers would feel that they should have made her character less important than the lead male characters. This is not so here. She gives a heart-rending performance as the only person in 1996 who believes Willis.

There have been mixed criticisms about Brad Pitt's acting in this one. I'll admit, he goes a little over the top with his psychotic villain, but so did Jack Nicholson in Batman and he came off alright. Pitt does just as good as Nicholson. Gilliam is a fine director, who could almost be in a class by himself. It's a little too early in the year to say that this is the best film of 1996, but it certainly should be placed in the top ten.

My Rating = Four Stars

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