12 Monkeys is a trippy sci-fi apocalyptic film that tells the story of James Cole (Bruce Willis) who is sent to the past to gather information about a virus that is set to wipe out 99% of the world’s population.
As he is sent back and forth through time, he starts to lose hold of what is his own reality and his mental capacity diminishes. Meanwhile, a skeptical psychiatrist is dragged deeper into the mystery as coincidences begin to corroborate Cole’s story. This complicated and twist-filled journey force them to work together to save the world.
Bruce Willis plays the lead, James Cole, alongside Madeline Stowe as his psychiatrist Kathryn Rally. Willis shifts from marginally sane to completely out of touch in expert fashion and plays a sympathetic character trying to save the world, while also resorting to violence while trying to accomplish his task. Still I must say the true highlight of this movie is Brad Pitt’s insane performance. A totally disillusioned young man, Pitt devolves from simply neurotic to a violent cult leader that influences his henchmen through his psychotic ramblings. He is a crazed individual that goes off on his incoherent ramblings at random creating a jittery, unstable character that you can’t trust.
Still the finale still throws you for a loop. That’s the tricky thing with time travel movies, they really mess with timelines and you really never know what is possible. The film is honestly pretty insane, but it’s a fun kind of insane. The whole time you really don’t know what to trust or what is real, but everything is cyclical as time travel films usually are. Packed with great performances and an actually engaging mystery, 12 Monkeys is a sci-fi flick that fully immerses you in its world, even if it is a chilling world that could very well be our own. Is the plot almost too muddled at times? Yes. But it’s still really enjoyable and has an engaging mystery plot with interesting visuals and an original idea.
Also in an interesting bit of intertexuality, Cole and Ralley sit in a theater playing Hitchock’s Vertigo and later The Birds. This bit alone warns viewers that there may be more than meets the eye and to not trust what is right in front of you, while also warning of the dangers of nature. Both of these themes are present in this film, and this inclusion is a nice little nod to the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.
Amy’s Recommendation: 9/10