Twelve Monkeys stars Bruce Willis as Cole, a man living in the year 2035 as a member of the 1% of the population left on Earth, thanks to a mystery virus which swept the planet back in 1997 killing five billion people, leaving the survivors no choice but to abandon the surface leaving the animals to rule the world once again.
The film begins with Cole as a child at the airport hearing a gunshot and seeing a long-haired man keel over, closely followed by a blonde woman screaming and running over to help him. Then we’re back to the present as Cole wakes up, his job as a ‘volunteer’ to take samples on the surface of the planet for analysis.
Events take Cole back in time to April 12th, 1990, where he becomes a mental patient at Baltimore County Hospital, the doctors, including Dr. Kathryn Railly, played by Madeline Stowe, not understanding his ramblings about the world and its impending doom, although one of his fellow ‘inmates’ Jeffrey, played brilliantly by a psychotic Brad Pitt seems to appear in full agreement with him. After another chain of events, Cole is thrust forward to 1996 where he comes across Dr. Railly and Jeffrey again, and sees it as his destiny to find out what killed the planet’s populaion, and just what the mysterious Army of the 12 Monkeys have to do with all of this. Can he succeed? In a typical Hollywood film you might say yes, but with director Terry Gilliam at the helm, nothing is typical, or predictable.
This film has so much going for it, that there’s no way it can fail as superb entertainment, keeping Bruce Willis in the actor’s A-list, and as he proved in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, he’s an all-round actor who can apply himself to much more than a straight-forward action role.
Madeline Stowe serves adequately in the role as the good doctor, but Brad Pitt, in a role which earned him an Oscar nomination, is excellent as the psyched-out mental patient who helps Bruce Willis escape from the institution, only to be captured again…
Picture quality of the widescreen video is very good indeed, the 1.85:1 aspect ratio capturing all of Gilliam’s inspired visuals, and the surround sound accompanies the bizarre script perfectly, drawing you into Cole’s world and the madness that inhabits it.
Also accompanying this box-set is a second video, the making of the film, entitled “The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of the Twelve Monkeys”, the hamster factor being that Gilliam likes to include a hamster in all the films he makes. For a penny under twenty quid, this makes a superb buy, especially when you consider that the closest equivalent is the NTSC Special Edition laserdisc (which also includes a commentary track and Dolby Digital sound) for a mere $129.95 !
Full marks to Polygram for this package. Buy it now, before the future is history…
Running time: 124 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures
Released: March 17th 1997
Sound: Dolby Surround
Director: Terry Gilliam
Producer: Charles Roven
Screenplay: David Peoples and Janet Peoples (inspired by the film “La Jetee” written by Chris Marker)
Music: Paul Buckmaster
James Cole: Bruce Willis
Dr. Kathryn Railly: Madeleine Stowe
Jeffrey Goines: Brad Pitt
Dr. Goines: Christopher Plummer
Dr. Peters: David Morse
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.