12 Monkeys (1995)


Bloody hell! A film ALMOST as old as me. Scary stuff. I must be getting sentimental. Regardless, here’s a 1995 science fiction film, directed by Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, Brazil, The Fisher King), starring Bruce Willis (Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, The 5th Element) and Brad Pitt (Ocean’s Eleven, Troy, Mr and Mrs Smith). So what’s it actually like?

Well, it’s not a comedy, I can tell you that. Cole (Bruce Willis) is a convicted criminal living in post-apocalyptic America, where a virus on the surface is so deadly, that everyone lives underground. In order to earn a pardon, he must travel to the surface and find a pure version of the virus so that it can be experimented on to find a cure. During the film he experiences recurring dreams of a man being shot during a chase at an airport. During his first trip to the surface (doing a time-warp) he ends up in 1990, instead of 1996, thus making his journey pointless. He gets imprisoned at a mental hospital, where he meets Jeffrey (Brad Pitt). Jeffrey is an animal rights activist with some extreme views. Cole attempts to leave a voicemail with a number which was supposed to belong to the people in the future that sent him to the past, but in 1990, the number belonged to a different woman, so the message doesn’t get through. That was a VERY complicated sentence to phrase.

After a failed escape attempt from the mental hospital, he gets locked up, then disappears back into the future, where the scientists that sent him back discuss the situation with him. They show him a picture of Jeffrey and play a message telling him where the attack will happen (an attack by the Army of the Twelve Monkeys). They then send him back to 1996. Cole kidnaps a psychiatrist from the mental hospital in 1990, now publishing a book in 1996. He forces her to take him to Philadelphia, where he can find Jeffrey. Jeffrey denies any planning to wipe out humanity with a virus, telling Cole that he was the one who suggested it, back in the mental hospital. As the police approach, Cole vanishes again.

The shrink ends up doubting her belief that Cole is insane, when she sees evidence that he is telling the truth., including a World War One photograph in which he appears. Cole, however, has convinced himself that he is crazy and convinces the scientists to send him back again. The shrink quickly calls the phone number for the future, leaving a message that Cole hears just before his second mission. They meet up and decide to enjoy their time together before the virus is released, heading to the airport.

On the way there, they find out the Army of the Twelve Monkeys only planned to release some animals from the zoo, delaying traffic. Cole leaves a message telling the scientists that this is the case, before an old friend from the future, Jose,  arrives to give him a  gun. The shrink tells him that the guy releasing the virus is ahead of them, about to embark on a journey involving all of the cities where the outbreak started. As Cole fights through security to kill the baddie, he himself gets chased and shot, imitating the dream he kept having, which just so happens to have been watched by the child version of him. The baddie, safely on the plane, ends up sat next to one of the scientists from the future, presumably sent there to acquire a pure sample of the virus.

Well, there’s a lot of time-travel there. Don’t worry if you got confused when you read that. I watched the film and got a bit confused myself… No George Takei. Not that kind of confused… (‘Sorry’)

I liked the plot. It was a bit gloomy for my liking and if I’m honest, I thought that it could have had a bit of work done to it, but generally speaking, it was well written. The script must have taken quite a bit of work,  incorporating the creepy nature of the scientists and the mental patients, whilst also making the rest of the characters quite like-able. Seriously. I sort of found myself rooting for everyone in this film. Let the animals go. Make the world suffer. Don’t release the virus. I felt everything.

The characters, were, as I’ve said, very like-able. Cole was a man with a photographic memory who seems to not mind having been imprisoned for whatever he’s done, and despite having witnessed his own death, he remains relatively unshaken by it all. I don’t know about you, but even with a disguise on, I think I’d recognise myself and be a bit shaken up over my own death. I might even consider trying to avoid it by NEVER going where I died. Just a thought.

As for the shrink? She takes the situation quite well, with almost minimal convincing to get her considering the Cole is in some way telling the truth. What a gal? I mean, seriously? No-one in their right mind would believe him AND SHE’S A PSYCHIATRIST? She has even less reason to believe him. I mean, seriously? Would you believe him? No. You wouldn’t. I wouldn’t!

Now for Jeff. Jeff was an interesting character. The psycho that looks as though he’s going to try to wipe out humanity, but actually just wants to release a shit-load of animals from a zoo. What a red-herring! I mean, seriously. He is the biggest distraction in the film. It looked as though he was behind it right up until they show you that it wasn’t him. That’s how distracting he was.

The music didn’t really stay in my head and since I’m at college, I can’t check what it sounded like. I could just wait until I get home and listen to it all again, but I have a life and want to do other stuff when I get home. Like play Company of Heroes… You know… The game… I know. I’ve never played it either, but it looks good and that’s my plan for tonight. Long story short, I’m not writing a review tonight and I don’t want to post this tonight either. I want to post this at 11:40, when I finish writing it…

Now we come to the effects. I don’t really think there WERE any effects. Not a single effect. There were a few good dystopian Baltimore scenes, but other than that, nothing. Nada. Not a thing. Not one second of effects. Did it look good? Other than the gloomy outlook, yeah actually, it did.

Well, I now have 2 minutes to finish up this review, but have no points to make, so I’m going to sit here and randomly type out a paragraph of nonsense. Nonsensical whimsy. Nonsensical whimsy on toast. I like whimsy.  That’s why I only drink coffee when it’s a month with a third Tuesday in it. Makes lifer more interesting…

Final score?

8/10

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